Friday, July 27, 2012

Dear Ella

My dear Ella,

I am writing you in epistolary form because I have more practice writing letters than anything else. I enjoy writing letters, usually by hand, and have had several pen pals over the years, though only one now. (You remind me that I need to write my grandma, very soon, thank you.) If you’re curious as to who Ella is, well, perhaps you are. Ella is related to the German word, “all” and in my mind, the French word “she”. I write my songs to Ella, my potential future, because I am tired of writing love songs for no one. (See John Mayer’s song, Love Song for No One.)

While I am eager, ma chere, I am not impatient. I have waited a long time to meet you and will wait as long as I have to. I will always believe that you’re there, somewhere, waiting for me as well. We are both looking for a friend, a confidant, a companion, a lover: someone to play and explore the world with.

What I want from life is simple. Work with meaning; a simple, comfortable lifestyle; and someday a family. I don’t need the newest gadgets, nor expensive toys. I want my dog by my side, or in the back seat, since she won’t fit in either your lap or mine for much longer, depending on who is driving. Someday soon I’ll trade my Accord for a Forerunner or Tacoma, ideally, and have a 16’ Hobie Catamaran sailboat to pull behind it. I dream of spending weekends sailing on the lake, setting up a tent on some forgotten or rarely visited beach and sailing back on Sunday evenings. In my mid or twilight years I’d like to live above, or close to, a coffee shop/wine bar/used book store, with a dance floor off to one side so I can teach swing once a week or so. I intend to run this establishment. Hopefully this will be in addition to being a successful, published writer. That’s the dream, subject to change. In the meantime, I have a regular job.

If I were an animal, I would like to think I would be a mastiff. (Which is part of why I chose to get one.) They’re loyal, strong, loving, and affectionate dogs that enjoy exercise and play but equally love to laze about with their loved ones and get lost in a good book. Hopefully you enjoy that image as much as I did.

One of my ultimate life goals is to be a Renaissance man and on the road toward that achievement I have traveled and moved a lot in my life, both as a child and adult. I have lived in four countries, including the US, and three states. I am constantly looking up stuff I don’t know on Wikipedia and I study things that interest me, such as Positive Psychology, regardless of the fact that I graduated from college ages ago.

I am a lot of things, some of them juxtaposed against each other. I like to be clever and get along with people who laugh at my appreciation for my own cleverness. I laugh at my own jokes, because then at least one person is laughing. ;) I am serious and playful, sarcastic and sincere, confident and shy. I believe in being good for good’s own sake, loving freely regardless of what you get in return, and constant self-improvement. To really get to know me will take someone with patience, someone willing to forego labels and wait and see who I am in a variety of situations. I promise to do my best to give as good as I get.

I won’t tell you who the girl of my dreams is. I am hoping you far outshine her.

I have been around the world, and I have done a thousand things. But as one of my songs goes, “I’m tired of playing at being a tumbleweed. I want to put down roots and grow into a tree.”

I can’t wait to meet you, Ella.



Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Waltz for the Chance I Should Take

Life moves forward. Mira went to the vet on Monday and weighed in at 18 pounds at 9 weeks. I got her new food on Tuesday and started transitioning her over. She likes the new food a lot. I even use individual kibble bits as rewards for good behavior. Haha. Best “treats” ever. I am absolutely taking advantage of this for as long as it continues to work. After Mira, I don’t know if I will ever be able to own anything but a mastiff. She is a great puppy and she promises to be an awesome dog. So awesome that I am considering breeding her once she is old enough. Have to find another Newfoundland/English Mastiff mix for the sire though. That possibility is a long way off, however. I wouldn’t breed her until she was at least two. I won’t be spaying her until then either way, since it can cause stunted growth and incontinence in females if done earlier.

I have been browsing dating sites in my spare time. Meeting women in this area is a challenge anyway, particularly since I don’t really enjoy spending time at church or bars. The activities I enjoy (dancing, acting), have yielded acquaintance with very few women between 21 and 30, sadly. It’s just not a common age group for singles in my town. There’s a wider pool in the more populated area 45 minutes to an hour and a half south of me, which doesn’t excite me, but is probably my best bet for a decent romance.

Online dating doesn’t really excite me. I would rather meet someone the old fashioned way. I am considering e-harmony once I am in a better position to afford it, but we’ll see. I have a profile on match and well, that’s why I am really talking about this today.

I ran across a woman’s profile on earlier this week that I am really excited about. It was well and extensively written with a lot of personality. If more women had profiles like hers, I would be a much bigger fan of online dating. But, as I said in an email to her, I think it’s better this way. I want someone special, and I imagine she wants to be someone special. (Who doesn’t?) If I wanted just anyone, I’d chase any pretty face.

Initially I sent her a wink and modified my profile for a personal note to her. However, I was so inspired and excited by her words, (and pictures, I admit that I want both), that I went ahead and approached her through the email system. The giddy feeling of hope and the inspiration it brings is enough for me. I love feeling this way and should she never respond, I will still be happy to have even a momentary muse.

I want to share the email I wrote her. You know me. I like sharing. Since her profile encouraged a little persistence, I’ll probably wait a week and write again if she doesn’t respond.

Mademoiselle Spunkyhook,

It is always with some trepidation that I actually subscribe to Match. I am rarely inspired enough to make the first move online, largely because I have what I like to call high standards, but others might just say I am picky and leave it at that. Or something less kind. What others say doesn't really matter in the end, right? How's that Dr. Suess quote go? "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." I think however, that you are worth the risk, whether you decide to keep your dresser or someday trust me enough to let me see this infamous piece of furniture.

Before I go on, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Morgan [Lastname]. If you read my profile you'll see that I actually wrote you a personal note for all and sundry to see. I think I made a glaring assumption about what This American Life is, but if you'll agree to find it somewhat endearing, I will happily be appropriately embarrassed. (Ok, I might be a little already, if my suspicions are correct.)

It is my hope, and I am a big fan of hope, that you will take my excitement with a grain of salt. Hope, after all, was the finest thing Pandora let out of her box and without it, what are we? I equally hope you will consider corresponding with me, and I am willing to jump through whatever hoops will make you comfortable enough to meet in the future. 

I have often wondered why stories don't end in morals anymore, and intend to pay attention to the moral in yours. I must admit though, my favorite moral is from Little Bunny Foo Foo: Hare today, Goon tomorrow. One of my more endearing traits, obviously, my taste for bad puns. . .

I say earnestly, because being earnest is important and I'm largely incapable of being otherwise, (almost to a fault), that I look forward to hearing from you. As I said in my profile-note, I have never encountered a profile I enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed yours. In a perfect world, everyone would have as much to say as you did, and be as charming doing so. But I am inclined to think it is better this way. I am looking for someone special and I would like to imagine, even at the risk of making another assumption, that you want to be someone special.

Sincerely Yours,

Morgan [LastName]

I realize that it may not all make sense, since I referred multiple times to information from her profile, but I think you can get the gist of what I said. To be honest, I am always a little worried about coming on too strong, but at the same time, I want to be myself, and being passionate and excited about people I find reason to admire is part of who I am. If someone can’t accept that about me early on without taking it too seriously, I will just continue with that forward movement. Life is a river, and it flows on.

But there’s hope. Always hope. The possibilities excite and inspire me. Even if she never gives me answer, she’ll still have given me a song. Some people want to fill the world will silly love songs, and what’s wrong with that, I’d like to know? Because here I go again. . .

And a thousand words, goodnight.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Mastiff's Best Friend

I have been excessively lax in my writing of 1,000 words a day. Like most habits I try to build, it went strong for about a month then collapsed under the weight of life. It is still a goal, however, and I do intend to try to move back toward it. I have different distractions now than I did a month ago. First and most important, Mira!

Mira is two months old as of Sunday. I am fairly convinced that she is the best puppy ever. As they say, a parent’s delusions of their child’s beauty, intelligence, personality, etc. is what keeps us from drowning them at birth. Ha ha. Mira is a great dog for being as young as she is, though. She isn’t housebroken yet, but we are working on it. On the other hand, she likes to stay close, cuddle and I am breaking her of her biting habit finally. For all that I have been working on it for just a week, it was a long week of frustrating biting whenever she wanted to play.

If you’re new to the discussion, Mira is a mastiff, (1/2 English, 1/4 Brazilian Fila, 1/4 Newfoundland). If you ever decide to raise one, throw out everything you think you know about dog training and start researching. (I recommend, where everyone has already asked every question you can think of.) Some things remain the same, but they have a peculiar temperament that requires specific behaviors from their owners. Mira’s biting habit is a perfect example.

I tried a firm voice, repeating “No.” to her. No luck. Mastiff’s, in spite of their strong desire to please their owner, don’t respond well to negativity and they’re stubborn. The more you tell her not to do something, the more she tries to do it. I can out-stubborn her, but it’s easier to distract her. When it came to biting I read a suggestion from someone who recommending yelping and walking away so the puppy would know that if she bites, playtime was over. I didn’t go so far as to walk away, since often the biting was taking place in my lap. I did start saying “Oww” in a loud, high-pitched voice every time Mira bites me. She doesn’t like it, and I think she understands that the sound means it hurts when she bites. She just wants to play, without hurting anyone. So she’s been biting less and less and stops quickly when I start saying “Oww.” She will try a couple times after the first time, as if to test me, but I repeat the sound and she stops. It did result in more puppy kisses though, but I am not going to make the effort to train that one out of her.

One of the best parts so far is Mira’s response to crate training. I didn’t actually have to make any effort to teach her. My mom, who is understandably in love with her, took her to a luncheon she had with several of her friends. On the car ride she put Mira in the dog carrier. When I was preparing to stop sleeping on the floor with the puppy, I put the carrier next to my bed. About halfway through the night I grew tired of being eaten during “playtime,” slipped her into the kennel and closed the door. She didn’t complain, just curled up and went to sleep. She still gets me up about 5 am, but that’s a blessing compared to every couple hours or so. The only real problem is the fact that she’s going to outgrow that carrier REALLY fast. There’s a good chance she’ll be 30 pounds by the end of the month. I haven’t weighed her this week, but she’s definitely getting harder to carry around. Great exercise though, since we don’t let her go up and down our main stairwell by herself due to it being hard on her joints. We will see how I feel about that when she weighs over 90 pounds this winter.
The Brazilian Fila mastiff is the lightest of the three breeds Mira is descended from. She is only a quarter Fila though. I figure she will have a final weight ranging between 90 to 200 pounds. The other two breeds are true giants, however, so it is likely she will end up in the middle of that range. I am ok with that. People keep pointing out that her food is going to be somewhat expensive and her poop huge. Not such a big deal to me. I want a big dog. She is going to be perfect for me. I wish I could spend more time with her, though. That will get easier when she is housebroken and older, however. My work allows people to bring their dogs on Fridays.

If you can’t tell, I am very happy to have my puppy. She will be the first dog I have raised all on my own. So far she is everything good about a mastiff without any of the socialization problems they sometimes have, particularly the Brazilian Fila. I think it helps that we have had a lot of company in and out since I got her, and she’s been on a couple of social visits and she’s yet to have an adverse reaction to anyone. She always comes back to be close to me, though, which is exactly what I expected from the reading I have done.

Beyond spending as much time with Mira as I can to strengthen our bond, I just finished our final performances of The Music Man. I played Charlie Cowell, the antagonist, and made the most of it. Of course, singer and dancer that I am, I somehow was cast in the only pure acting role. I did my part and did it well, so no one can complain if I express a little disappointment. The role became one of things that “Is what it is” rather than any source of pleasure, really. Then again, I don’t really act for the love of acting. I enjoy meeting people, the validation of those who appreciate my talents, and having my time full of something more than sitting in my apartment. I was nervous less in this production than I ever have been. I just did my part and knew I would do it better and better each time. Whether we had 250 or 450 people in the audience, it was simply what I had committed to doing in the moment. So I did it. Charlie Cowell was a slimy, arrogant jerk, but he was still trying to do the right thing. You have to pity him a little, he was trying to protect people from a con man and got shafted due to poor circumstance. Any other town and he would have been a hero. That is how I saw him, so that was how I played him. It is hard to imagine we haven’t all felt that way at some point.

The play is over now and I am excited to see what I do with the time I have free. I will be starring in a short film written by a local come the first week of August and a family of actors from Music Man asked me to play a British character named Froggy in a comedy called the “The Foreigner.” The rehearsals and timing of the later have yet to be determined. Beyond those two things, I am done with theatre for a while. I have things of my own to take care of. Like Mira! That may mean saying no to the people who want to cast me as Orson Wells in a radio play rendition of War of the Worlds. Well, knowing how to say no is just as important to one’s happiness as saying yes.

Forty-five minutes before I get to head home to my puppy! Always exciting.

And a thousand words, goodnight.