Posts Tagged ‘Nala’

Seven Years of Nala

As I type this, Nala is lying in her bed and I am sitting in my easy chair where I always write, and we can see each other. She is drowsing, half sleeping and then cracking open her eyes to look at me. I am making silly noises at her and calling her nicknames.


We have lived with each other for seven years. Today is our adoption anniversary.


I have lived longer with Nala than I have lived with anyone aside from my nuclear family.

I feel like you can’t know me well without being aware of Nala’s existence in my life. I share photos of her all the time because they make me happy and I want to share that happiness with all of you. She is an essential component to the rhythm of my days. She loves it when I have friends over because she is so curious about people. Oh, and also she’s fond of getting more belly rubs.


We’re moving out of state in less than two weeks. My days are filled with logistics and scheduling and making big decisions and packing and saying goodbye. Meanwhile, awful things are happening out in the world, and when I think about it (and how can I not think about it?) I feel like crying. Sometimes I do cry. And then I have to focus instead on whether I should pay to move my Billy bookcases or whether I should give them away, and what health insurance plan should I sign up for, and why hasn’t the welcome letter from my new complex come yet. And I have several friends who are having a difficult time right now, and I’m worried about them, and I don’t want to be dealing with moving, I want to be next to them giving them support. But I can’t because I have to be here. It’s a weird time.

In the middle of so much turmoil and change, I am especially appreciative of the things I can depend upon. I am afraid. I try not to problem compare, but I think of all the people who have so much more to be afraid of than myself right now, and this complicates my feelings even further. Even so, this is my reality. I am afraid. I think of being all alone in a new city in an empty apartment (because who knows how long it will take my stuff to arrive) and I am afraid.

And then I think of Nala. “Nala will be there,” I tell myself. And that fact, the fact of Nala, makes the fear navigable. She will roll around on the carpet and make funny snorting sounds. We can sit together on the floor in the dark. She will lick my arm. We can discuss her sentience or lack thereof, and she will be there when I cry and then realize I forgot to pack any Kleenex and end up draping toilet paper around the apartment like ghostly tear trails.


The ones we love can’t take away the fear or the pain or the struggle. What they can do is make it easier to sit with these things.

What they can do is make us feel like we aren’t alone.


I am so grateful to have Nala in my life.

She gives me something to emulate. I hope my words can make a few of you feel a little bit less alone too.

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Nala: Before and After

This is going to be one of my best posts ever. Are you ready?

Nala before her haircut:


Nala after her haircut:


You’re welcome.

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Almost every day, I take a walk with Nala. We have a couple of regular routes that depend on how much time I have and what the weather is like and how my toe feels and how long it’s been since I last picked up the mail. In the past, this walk has also been a time to catch up with significant others, but for the last few years, it’s almost always been just for Nala and me.

Nala on her leash

Nala on her leash

I don’t take my phone on these walks. This wasn’t a mindful choice; it began because in the summertime I often don’t have any pockets, and it was a mindful choice not to have to lug a purse around for a simple walk in my neighborhood. But lately I’ve noticed how much I enjoy not having my phone.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my phone. It tells me how to get where I’m going. It lets me access my schedule. It lets me keep in touch with a host of lovely people. It gives me information exactly when I need it (and yes, I did check a recipe in the grocery store today in order to choose the correct size of cranberry bag). It lets me take photos that help me remember what I have done and where I have been.

I love my phone too much. I want to check my phone. I want to see what’s happening on Facebook and Twitter. I think of things to google. I flip into schedule mode at the drop of a hat. I want to see if anyone has texted me. I want to text someone. Hell, I simply want to know what time it is.

But I also don’t like my phone. I go to social events, and I notice when everyone has their phone out, and everyone is talking to people who aren’t there, via texting, instead of talking to the people who are there. I don’t think I judge (I know what it’s like to be shy, to want to avoid an awkward moment), but I do notice. Sometimes, when I am not at my best, I think, “Aha! This means I’m allowed to look at my phone too.”  But more often I think, “What’s going on here? How can we re-establish a connection right now?” Because that’s really what’s happened. The social connection has gotten difficult or a little slow for some reason, and instead of waiting it out and sitting with the slowness, we’ve retreated into our phones.

I like noticing. I like having some daily time when I remember what it’s like not to have the impulse to check. I like not always being available.

I revel in the opportunity to be actually alone. When my phone is there, it is a constant reminder that I don’t have to be alone. But sometimes the company provided by my phone can feel hollow. I remember that according to Facebook, my life is an uninterrupted stream of exciting events and cute outfits. According to Facebook, I live a magazine kind of life, and yet that isn’t actually what my life is like at all. My life is so much more complex than that.

I like having uninterrupted time with the people who are important to me when we just…talk. And sometimes we sit in silence. And sometimes the conversation is not the most scintillating thing ever, and most likely there’s something really exciting happening somewhere on the internet. And I don’t care.

Because it is in that space that conversations deepen. It is in that space that conversations spread out to become some of the most interesting I’ve ever had. It is in that space that I learn things about the world, and about the people in that world.

It is in that space that I get to feel what it is like to be you.

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Six Years With Nala

Today Nala and I are celebrating our sixth anniversary of living together and being best friends.


Doubtless everyone who reads this blog already knows how much I love this little dog. And how much she loves me.



Someone asked me this year, “Amy, what would you be doing with your life right now if you didn’t have Nala?”

My answer was, I’d be traveling. I’d be nomadic. I’d put all my stuff in storage, and I’d go around the world with my laptop, writing as I went.

And then I said, “And after several months I’d be incredibly lonely.”

As romantic as it sounds, I’m glad that’s not what I’m doing with my life right now. And I’m grateful to Nala for providing me with the grounding that has encouraged me to stay in one place and learn to make the connections with my friends and communities that are so important to me.


Nala and I share so many little moments of joy. Our daily walk. The twice-a-day celebration of her receiving her dog food. The wagging inspired by homecoming. The leap into the lap when I am feeling sad or stressed or otherwise upset. The careless flop onto the back, revealing the belly. The ridiculous way she runs up the stairs for absolutely no reason.


I think of the list of things about my life that make me happy: my friends, writing, singing, dancing, reading, my apartment, delicious foods, travel, learning new things. It’s a great list. And Nala is at the very top of it.



For me, Nala is home.



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Living 100%

I’m back home from DC and the World Fantasy Convention, and I have that slightly hazy post-con mind with which many of you are probably familiar. I got to spend time with so many amazing people, and yet I felt like I didn’t have close to as much time as I wanted: another familiar feeling. But I did have many wonderful conversations, and I’m going to piece together a few for you.

But first, a dose of the adorable Nala.

But first, a dose of the adorable Nala.

I was talking about this blog, the way I do, and I always do a terrible job explaining what it’s about. But one thing I said sticks out to me now through the blur. I tell personal stories on my blog, I said, in order to illustrate insights I have had that I think might be helpful to other people. I don’t know that I’d ever put it into such simple words before, but yes, this is one of the reasons I keep blogging.

And because it is one of the reasons, I’m going to tell you a story that I told a friend this weekend.

My mom was in remission from cancer my senior year of high school, and she came to see me perform as the Narrator in the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I remember that she had an interesting reaction to that performance. She was proud of me and happy for me, but she was also … wistful. I don’t remember if we talked about it or not, and what we said if we did, but I do remember what I thought about it at the time.

I had been one hundred percent alive on that stage during that performance. From the opening bars when I descended from the ceiling of the stage in what amounted to a mechanical box through to the finale, I’d felt energy pouring through me, along with that feeling that I was doing exactly what I was meant to be doing. And I had the impression that watching me being so fully and utterly alive and ME was a bittersweet experience for my mom because she had never had the opportunity to do that.

She was diagnosed with another cancer later that year, and as she was dying, I watched her venture outside her comfort zone a little bit. She flew with my dad to Hawaii once or twice and had a beautiful time, whereas before she’d never felt comfortable with travel. She spoke at the memorial for one of her support group members, even though she’d never liked speaking in public. And in these small actions, I could see the shape of who she might have been or become shimmering in front of me like a phantom.

And then she died.

And watching this, here is what I decided. When I die, whenever that should be, I don’t want to see that phantom of myself. I don’t want to see the most awesome version of Amy who I was too afraid to be. That is why I work so hard–and make no mistake, it is hard and sometimes punishing work–to learn about myself and to push myself and to figure out who I can be. It’s not about being perfect or easy or comfortable, and it’s not about straining upwards towards an unreachable ideal. Rather, it’s about trying to be the best possible version of myself, whatever that might entail in this moment.

Or in other words, it’s about being one hundred percent committed to this business of being alive. I don’t want to feel wistful because I’ve never had that.

Instead, I want to revel in it.

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I’ve been very tired lately, so it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’ve come down with a cold. I’m taking it easy for a few days, and I don’t have the brainpower to tackle the post I wanted to write today, so instead it is obviously time for some adorable dog photos.

Nala shaking my hand.

Nala shaking my hand.

Nala is a very food-motivated dog, so the main problem with doing tricks with her is that she gets so excited, she has trouble focusing enough to figure out which trick I’m asking her to do. Instead she tends to wave her paws wildly in the air and/or wag as fast as she can. But with a little bit of patience, she is happy to shake hands.

The Nala blur.

The Nala blur.

I know this isn’t a great photo, but I love it because it captures how excited Nala gets. She just can’t stay still. This is a different trick in which she grabs my hand with both paws.

In other news, it seems like fall has come along with my cold. When I took Nala outside today, I shivered and realized I’d have to wear heavier clothing if I actually had the capacity to leave my house today. It’s getting dark earlier, and the time change is less than two weeks away. I’m wearing boots again, and the house has held steady at 80 degrees Farenheit today without any A/C. (Yes, I live in a very hot location in a very hot apartment. Who knows what this experience may have done to my already poor temperature regulation abilities.)

I generally dislike cold weather, but for the first time in my life, I am so ready for winter.

I’m also going to take this opportunity to opine on this year’s general disdain towards all things pumpkin spice. I guess it’s supposed to be funny? Are peppermint, egg nog, and gingerbread flavors funny in December? Personally I think they’re tasty, just as I’m happy to be able to order my favorite pumpkin spice chai at the coffee shop again. I’d order that drink all year if I could. As it is, I limp along with the occasional vanilla chai in the spring, but it’s not the same.

Anyway, is the pumpkin spice hatred because of ridiculous marketing? Occasionally I feel like there’s this whole slice of American culture that I’m missing out on because I don’t watch television commercials. I’m pleased to miss it, but once in a while I have a conversation in which I have to plead ignorance and change the subject. In any case, I have trouble seeing how pumpkin spice marketing could reach anywhere near the ridiculousness of Christmas marketing, but I suppose stranger things have happened.

And now it is time for me to rest some more. Until Thursday, my friends.

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Cute Dog Day

Every now and then, I need to declare a cute dog day. This is one of those days.

Here, have a cute dog photo:



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