How I know I'm an asshole...

He stands at the front of the room. His face is red from a mixture of anger and hurt. The words coming out of his mouth are passionate. They are heartfelt. They are emotional. And I can focus on none of that because he keeps saying 'yous.'

"We do it all for yous," he repeats, again and again.

'The plural of you is not yous,' I think to myself. 'Unless... Wait, does he mean ewes?'


All in a day's work

"Do you want to go on an adventure?" he asked. Only there had been more to his question, as I would soon find out, but I had stopped listening after the word 'adventure.' 

"Yes," I replied, cutting off at least part of his sentence. 

He went back to his office for a few minutes to find some papers, and then, before I knew it, I was following him out the set of double glass doors and down a bright hallway. As we walked, he chatted away excitedly. Though I found the subject matter fascinating, I was only half listening. My brain was preoccupied, finally processing his earlier words and slowly realizing where we were headed. 

"They prepare some really neat stuff for us," he finished, as we made our way down a set of stairs and that opened up to another longer, slightly more ominous hall. And that's when I saw the sign and everything finally clicked. 

The anatomy lab. That's where the adventure was. My formal education, when it came to anatomy, had ended when I finished high school. When I thought of anatomy, diagrams and small plastic models of the reproductive system came to mind. But this wasn't a high school; this was a teaching hospital. They don't have plastic models; they have plasticized models. We walked through another set of doors and greeted a pair of receptionists. "At the back and hang a right," they said, also listing off a room number. 

"Hmm," he paused, "I wonder if that's the fridge."

'Oh, no,' I thought to myself. "They prepare some really neat stuff for us," his words from minutes before echoed in my head.

Neat stuff. Oh, god.

My stomach was rumbling and I regretted not ingesting some sort of snack before we left on our "adventure." I had a feeling that I wouldn't feel like eating for a while afterwards, and, as it turned out, I was right. 

He was right too though. What they'd prepared was neat. But I felt like 'stuff' wasn't quite as fitting of a word choice. The "neat stuff," in this instance, was the lower half of what had quite recently been a living man. As my boss peered over it and spoke to the people he had come to see, I looked around the room and tried to keep a non-creepy smile on my face. I was in no risk of becoming ill, but I did still feel faint. My gaze shifted, every so often, back to the metal table. My gaze made its way up a skinny set of shins to his knobby knees, and then I looked away again. 

'This had been a man once,' I thought to myself. Had I ever crossed his path in life? Was there someone out there, at that moment, mourning his death and trying to figure out how it was that the world just kept on spinning as if nothing had happened?

We couldn't have been in that room more than five minutes, and then we were off down another hall and into another series of rooms. My boss's excitement was contagious as he showed me the different tools they used to train the next generation of doctors. 

Later, I recounted the experience to my mother and told her how he had taken me from room to room, showing me everything he could think of. She simply smiled.

"He was probably so eager to show you around because it isn't often that anyone from the administrative staff wants to go take a look at that sort of thing," she said. 

"You're probably right," I sighed. "But I'm still going to tell him I am working on something very important and can't leave my desk if he asks me to go on another adventure... Probably." 



I am writing you a letter, though I have no envelopes to send it in. But for you, friend, I would buy 100 envelopes. Thankfully, Staples offers them in boxes of 45, so I don't actually have to.

You left without saying goodbye, which wasn't terribly surprising. Hinting at the end of an era, as we sat on the dock. But all good things must come to an end, and, as I technically left first, I can't really blame you. I have become adept at saying goodbye to people and places, but some things are still harder to part with than others. I have spent the last four years slowly unweaving myself from this place, but it's more of a challenge to separate myself from the people.

It's time now though, for both of us, to make our way out those doors one last time. I've said goodbye to the last of the people I care about. Or, rather, they've said goodbye to me.

So you will head your way, and I will finally head mine. But our paths will cross again, and often - if I have anything to say about it.

I want you to know that my admiration for you will never waiver, but there's still no fucking way I'm ever running a marathon. 


Too many sharks

"You aren't allowed to go swimming in the ocean. You can get arrested," I said casually. "But that isn't really a problem for us, most of the time, because the ocean isn't very close by."
"Why can't you go in the ocean?" she asked.
"Because.. the blood will attract too many sharks," I replied, as if the answer should be obvious.

It occurs to me, at times, that the things I tell her may end up scarring her for life. However, I prefer to think that she will look back fondly on the time she spent with me. Hopefully, she will also laugh. It is okay if she doesn't because I laugh in the mean time.

Is it nice to tell my niece untruths about what to expect once she starts menstruating? No. Probably not. But I am almost positive that it is entirely harmless. 


Thursday, while on vacation

Get super high and give the dog a bath while listening to the Hedwig and the Angry Inch soundtrack. 


My grandpa died tonight, although we'd been slowly losing him for years.

I'd received a text message from my mother in the early afternoon letting me know of his failing health. "The doctor says it could be any time now," she'd written.

I volunteer at a hospice every Sunday. I was in the middle of making cookies when I got my mom's text. Earlier, I'd brought out a tray of snacks and coffee for a family who'd just lost a loved one. Later, as I sat next to my grandfather's bed, holding his hand and stroking his forehead, one of the nurses came in with a tray of snacks. I smiled at her, and laughed quietly to myself at the reversal of roles.

"Do you want a few minutes alone with your grandfather?" my mother asked me. "Is there anything you want to say?"

"No," I told her. "He knows. I've already told him." A few years ago, back before he had gotten sick. When he was more himself. It was his birthday. I wrote him a card and sat with him as he read it.

"Thank you," it said. "Thank you for teaching me how to drive a car. Thank you for teaching me how to make my own rope. Thank you for showing me how to cast a fishing line. Thank you for letting me shoot a pellet gun. Thank you for teaching me the names of all the trees in the forest. Thank you for making my childhood exciting. Thank you for being my grandfather. I love you."

I've not yet cried over my grandfather's death, but not because it doesn't sadden me. I will miss my grandfather. I will mourn his loss for the rest of my life, but we can't keep the things we love with us simply because we don't want to be without them.

My eyes teared up as I said goodbye to him for what turned out to be the last time. I kissed his forehead and rubbed his hands. He looked so small laying there in his bed. His breathing was laboured, but he looked peaceful.

I don't know where we go when we die. I don't know what happens. But I'd like to think that my grandfather is out there, somewhere, free from the tethers of the frail body he left behind. I hope that my dog is there with him too.  



"You are the worst parents ever!" my step-niece exclaimed to my sister and brother-in-law.

We'd been having a sleepover and decided to make it a Monty Python's night. "She should be exposed to quality comedy," my sister and I agreed.

We were supposed to be watching Monty Python's Life of Brian, and while we'd anticipated several instances in which "ear muffs" and the the covering of eyes would be necessary, we hadn't anticipated the sight we'd been exposed to.

"There are only two of us who live here," my sister said flatly, "and I know that I wasn't watching porn on the game console."

Though it was only on the screen for a matter of seconds, the damage had been done.


We'd accidentally shown her porn.

I laughed so hard that I began to cry.

"This is traumatizing!" my brother-in-law exclaimed.

"No," I corrected him, "it is beautiful. And I will tell this story at her wedding."

In reality, my step-niece had no idea what she saw. Her reaction was based entirely on the shock we were displaying at the time. "She's nine now," I told her father. "Based on kids today, this is probably all old hat to her." For some reason, he did not take solace in this statement.


It'll come to me

I can't find my smile, Internet.

It disappeared a few months ago, when I said goodbye to my dog friend, and I haven't been able to locate it since. Sure, there are fleeting moments when I think I see it off in the distance somewhere, but I just can't quite manage to catch it.

I've been thinking about it a lot lately... How to get my smile back. What is it that makes me happy? What do I love doing? What do I love in general? And who do I love?

I realized that I don't know the answer to any of these questions. I can't remember the last time that I did.

I need to find my smile, and I will, but first I think I am going to have to spend a little bit more time finding me.


So Ambitious

"Oh, are you looking to do assisted pull-ups?" the sales representative at the fitness store asked me.
"Yes," I told him. "Right now I can do zero pull-ups, and I would really like to be able to do one pull-up," I explained.
I've had the goal of being able to do one pull-up for half a year now. I figure it is time that I finally do something about it. Well, something other than just buying a pull-up/dip station that is now primarily used to hang bras to dry. 


I miss my dog

I'm sad without my dog. That's the only way to really describe it. I'm not depressed. I'm not despondent. I'm just sad. I'm melancholy.
I know that, with time, my sadness will ease, but right now it feels like a defining characteristic. "My name is Megan," I want to say, "and I am sad."
I know that I am lucky - that most things in my life are running so smoothly that the death of my relatively old dog is the biggest emotional trauma I have to deal with - but my heart is still having a hard time rationalizing that. I don't want my dog to be dead. I want him to be sleeping on his bed, or in front of the toilet, or on the couch (even though he's not supposed to be on the couch). I want another chance to make up for all the times I short changed him on his evening walks or the days I thought, "I should take you to the park," but never did.
Every so often, I would lay down on the floor with him. I'd place my hand on his side and scrunch my eyes closed, as tightly as I could. I'd concentrate on all the love I felt inside for him and do my best to pass it along through my arm, out through my hand and into his body. I didn't hold much weight in it actually working, but what did it hurt? I don't think my dog ever had a particularly impressive grasp of the English language either, but that never stopped me from talking to him.



"I don't want to do this," I sobbed, more to myself than to anyone else, as I stood in the small room. There was a blanket on the floor and an exam table to my right. My mom sat in a chair in the corner and my dog sat at my feet, more than likely wondering what all the fuss was about.
The time had come.
It was clear he wasn't getting any better. He was losing weight and moving around less and less. He was just as loving as always, but he had lost the energy and sense of excitement about life that he'd once had.
He used to roll around on the floor and kick his legs in the air. I hadn't seen him do that in over a week, and he would no longer come when I called for him.
The vet said many things to me while I sat on the floor, stroking my dog's side, but I don't remember most of them. "I am not sure," I remember replying many times, without really hearing the question. All I could think about was how much my heart hurt and that I would soon be without my best friend of more than ten years.
His heart stopped within seconds once the vet began to administer the drug. "He's gone now. He was very weak," I heard them say. I sat there, beside his body, stroking his side for several more minutes before I felt another wave of grief.
I loved that dog with all of my heart and a few hearts to spare. As I patted his head for the last time and gave him one last hug, I did not feel regret. Sure, I wished with everything inside of me that things had ended differently, but I knew with a certainty I could not put into words that I had finally proved myself worthy of my dog's adoration.
The first moment I held him, I knew that I would be with him until he took his dying breath... just as surely as I knew he was bound to break my heart. I wasn't wrong. 


My hands on the steering wheel, at ten and two, as I make my way down the highway, going a few clicks faster than I probably should be.
Watching the road ahead of me, I feel a slight pressure on the sleeve of my shirt. Looking down to my right, I see a paw gently resting on my forearm. I glance up at its owner to see him staring at me in what can only be described as hopeful adoration.
"You're such a dweeb," I tell him, taking my right hand from the wheel and rubbing his head affectionately.
I spend the rest of the four hour trip holding his paw in my hand.
It became a ritual, of sorts, on any car ride - his paw in my hand. 


The waiting game

It's a last ditch effort; bombarding his body with pills to see if something will work.
"This would be so much easier if you could just talk, Dog," I tell him while stroking his head.
"It is weird," the vet said. "His symptoms are so vague, and his test results aren't really telling us anything other than that there is fluid around his lungs." I nodded as his voice echoed through the phone.
"I can't afford to take him to the specialist," I told him and tried to keep my voice from shaking. The test the vet had recommended to confirm a diagnosis required a referral to another vet and $1,500 to start.
"If the specialist is not an option," I continued, "is there anything else we can do?"
"Well, if the fluid is caused by an infection, antibiotics would be able to treat it, or if it is congestive heart failure, water pills would help," he replied. He'd told me earlier that, if the fluid was not a result of infection or heart failure, there could be a few other possible causes that only the specialist would be able to diagnose. Two were very rare and would involve surgery resulting in a bill of upwards of $5,000, and the other was a tumour on the heart.
"If I chose to give him antibiotics and water pills, would we be doing it for him or would it really be just for me?" I asked.
"What is frustrating with this case," the vet said, "is that we just don't know what the cause is. There is a chance that the pills could work, but we just don't know."
"Okay," I said, and took a deep breath. "And if I give him these pills, how long would we wait to see results before it is no longer fair to the dog?" I asked.
"I wouldn't let it go more than a week. But if he starts eating again, more than just tiny little pieces, we'd extend that to two weeks and take things from there."
"Okay," I said, "let's do that then."
I've spent a lot of time crying. While the idea of my dog dying was looming on the horizon, it wasn't something that I'd seriously given much thought. I'd assumed I'd have more time. More time to be a better owner. More time to spoil him. More time to take him on long, slow walks. More time pet his fur and tell him that he would have to start pulling his weight around the apartment and get a job. But I've come to realize that, no matter what happens, I have already been lucky to have had this much time with him. I've had nearly eleven years of his love and loyalty, and, since he started showing signs of illness, I've already gotten an extra week I didn't think I would have. If our journey together has reached its end it will hurt, but I have no right to complain. But I don't think I can be blamed either... for being greedy for more.



Gandhi's longest hunger strikes lasted 21 days. So far dog is on day 23, although he seems willing to cheat every so often.

Both blood and urine collected and analyzed, the only thing we can say for certain is that dog is probably not fasting to end violence or anything quite so noble. 

It is hard to say if he is in his final days. Other than having no interest in food, he largely still seems to be enjoying life, but there are times when he is so still that I have to place my ear to his chest to make sure he is breathing. 

I spend hours just staring at him and stroking his head. I feel anxious when I have to be anywhere that requires me to stray from his side. Hard as it may be, I can accept that this may be the end of our journey together, but it breaks my heart to think he might take his final breath when I can't be right next to him. 

Without any sort of definitive answers from the vet, I am not sure if the idea of euthanasia is jumping the gun. "If only you could talk," I say to him, as we stare at one another. "I don't know what you want me to do, and I don't want to make the wrong choice." 

So, for the time being, I keep him next to me in my bed at night, listening to him snore as he breathes in and out, hoping that maybe tomorrow he will decide he has proven his point and eat the bacon I have cooked for him. 


My best friend

As I jogged at a leisurely pace on the treadmill, I looked over to my dog on the couch and squinted my eyes in an attempt to see if I could tell he was still breathing.

The dog is old now, eleven to be precise, and he hasn't been feeling the greatest over the last few days. Feeling overly sympathetic, I have been spoiling him by letting him sleep on my bed and on top of other comfortable surfaces. I can't tell if his apparent lethargy is due to illness or simply because he's always been this lazy but never had something comfortable enough to lay on.

As I stared at him, determining that he was in fact still very much alive, I tried to think back to some of the more memorable moments we've shared over the last decade. He is my best friend, and he is the only friend I have that has shit on my floor and faced absolutely zero consequences afterwards.

I am not sure what I will do when he dies. Sure, dog number two will still be kicking it, and the cat (always the cat), but it won't be the same.

When I finished my run, I decided to take him for a walk in the snow. He sniffed around and hopped in the air as I threw snowballs at his head (trust me, he likes it). "I think you're faking," I told him. "You're feeling much better than you've been letting on." He ignored my accusations and rolled onto his back, kicking his legs up in the air.

We stayed outside until he got back onto his feet and led me back in towards the door.

I hope my dog knows how much I love him. Even when he passes so much gas within the confines of my bedroom that the smell causes me to wake from a dead sleep. He has been much better to me than I deserve, and I can't imagine being anything but completely lost without him.