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Cricket’s Sweaters

            What with Cricket’s thinning hair, and aging temperature-control-system, and the onset of colder weather, plus a much-needed visit to the groomer, Cricket needed something to cover her up – both for warmth and for modesty. We already had one sweater: a red and black plaid one that came as a gift from our neighbor (when she realized it was too small for her brother’s dog) and that originally went to Ellie, who doesn’t really need or want to wear a sweater. Then I went online and found a white and grey cable knit sweater, so Cricket would have something to wear when the red and black plaid started to smell.

“Harrumph.”

            Strangely, Cricket actually seems to enjoy wearing her sweaters, though getting them pulled on over her head can set off her panic response (aka biting), so we have to be careful not to dilly dally when dressing her.

“Harrumpherrumph.”

            But even now that Cricket really needs to wear sweaters, because you can see all of her age spots and cauliflower bumps and pink skin shivering in the cold, I still can’t really go whole hog into dressing her up, because she wouldn’t put up with it, and because my mom would roll her eyes at me, and because I can’t actually afford it. And, really, Cricket and Ellie would much prefer having any extra money spent on food and treats than on clothes.

“I really don’t like clothes, Mommy.”

            The thing is, I have wanted to dress the dogs up forever, but I felt guilty about it, because Cricket was so resistant to wearing jackets and harnesses, and Ellie and Butterfly, and Dina, all looked like they were being punished when they had to wear anything at all. But recently, Cricket’s friend Kevin, the mini-Golden-Doodle, has been wearing sweaters and sweatshirts all the time, and he looks so cute and cozy and loved! For Halloween he had an adorable hoodie with a skeleton painted on the back, and I felt like such a neglectful dog mommy looking at naked Cricket in comparison.

            I actually hate dressing up myself, because it makes me feel self-conscious, and all of my body shame gets triggered. Instead, I live in a uniform of sweaters and jeans and sneakers, to avoid drawing attention to my body. When I see adult women all dressed up I tend to feel intimidated, and vicariously exhausted, and triggered into body shame just by looking at them. But Cricket and Ellie look perfect to me, and they are unselfconscious about their bodies, and I keep wishing that I could dress them up and live vicariously through them, and they won’t let me.

“No clothes!”

            In the midst of my longing to dress up the dogs, I noticed a series of videos showing up in my Facebook feed starring a dog named Noodles. Noodles wears the most wonderful outfits, with chunky necklaces, and colorful glasses with beaded chains, and frilly shirts, and she has so many different hairstyles, and she just makes my inner little girly-girl swoon. The videos themselves are hilarious too: all about Noodles’ imaginary officemates and office politics, or that time she got drunk for her third (aka 21st) birthday.

            So I scroll through Amazon for sweaters I wish Cricket would wear: sweaters with stripes and plaids and cables and ruffles and lace insets and skirts, and then I watch Noodles giving the camera side eye in her lacy blouses and braided hair, and for a few minutes I get to feel like the little girl I could have been, and maybe still am, deep inside.

There’s a little girl at my synagogue who has her own sense of style. One day she’s dressed like a widow from the 1920’s, with black netting around a small black hat on the back of her head, another day she’s a fluffy bumble bee, another she has pink hair and wings on her back. That’s not the kind of little girl I was, obviously. I was intensely conscious of how people looked at me and judged me, and more often than not I wore hand-me-down clothes from wealthier families, so I didn’t have a choice of what to wear. But when I see this little girl at synagogue, or Noodles on Facebook, or even Kevin in his hoodies, I imagine the joy I might have felt as a little girl, if not for the abuse. And seeing Noodles in her dresses and bows lets the little girl in me play dress up vicariously. And it’s wonderful! So watch out, Cricket. You may have to deal with more clothes sometime soon.

“Protect me, Ellie.”

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Young Adult novel, Yeshiva Girl, on Amazon. And if you feel called to write a review of the book, on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.

            Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish teenager on Long Island, named Isabel, though her father calls her Jezebel. Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes it’s true. As a result of his problems, her father sends her to a co-ed Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, and Izzy and her mother can’t figure out how to prevent it. At Yeshiva, though, Izzy finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment. The question is, what will Izzy find?

High Tech

 

I was supposed to spend my two weeks off from school over winter break looking for either an iPhone or an iPad, reading up on the positives and negatives, and actually visiting an Apple store, if necessary, in order to come to a decision about which small step towards the modern age I’d be willing to take. Except, I didn’t do it. I read a bunch of articles, and tried to read some books – smartphones for dummies, etc. – but I kept thinking, eh, couldn’t I just pay off more of my student loans and leave the modern age for later?

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Butterfly thinks the answer is obvious. Spend the money on chicken treats.

I have a computer. And I have a cell phone (though I rarely use it, and even more rarely remember to charge it). My thought was that, if I could get an iPhone the size of an iPad, that might be useful, because then I could, possibly, read something written on that damned screen. But I hate the sound of the phone ringing, and I would hate it just as much if it sounded like Beyoncé, or barking, or a doorbell. And I really don’t want to be answering the phone or texting at all times. I like privacy, and quiet, and boundaries. I don’t want to be expected to answer messages all day long, at someone else’s pace. I hate the urgency implied by keeping a phone on your person at all times – as if we have all become doctors, with beepers at our waists in case a patient goes into labor.

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“It’s an emergency!!!!!”

My cell phone stays in my pocket book (that’s why I’m always forgetting to recharge it). And I have a phone at home, it’s called a land line, and it has great reception (as opposed to many cell phone calls that sound as if your interlocutor is under water, in a tunnel, and having a light saber battle all at once). I prefer to not FaceTime, if I can help it. I dress up and do my hair when I have to go out; I don’t want to have to work that hard when I stay in, just to talk on the phone.

I don’t understand people who are fine with having private conversations in public, as if the smartphone creates a magic force field around you. I mean, sure, if each time you picked up your phone, an old fashioned telephone booth appeared around you, to give you privacy, then why not? But I have not seen an app for that yet.

Dogs don’t have to worry about iPads and iPhones. They get their messages through pee, and in no great hurry. They don’t need to be reachable at every moment, or know the latest world news and events. I wonder, though, if Cricket would like to have a smart phone, maybe attached to her waist, on a belt, so that she could keep track of Grandma at every moment. We’ve come up with all of this technology to keep an eye on our dogs when we’re at work, or keep track of children by GPS, but no one thinks about the dog with separation anxiety who needs to keep track of her people.

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“Grandma, are you out there?”

Cricket would probably also like to have a device with her on her walks, to help her catalog each smell that draws her interest, and post it on Smell-o-gram or Insta-smell. She could even send her smells to her sister’s phone, so that Butterfly, meandering ten feet away, would know that an important smell had been discovered and must be sniffed immediately!

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“If only I could send this smell to Butterfly, wherever she is.”

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But Butterfly loves to meander.

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Though there is something wonderful about sharing a smell with a sister.

I have my moments of iPhone envy, especially when I want to Google something on the fly, but there’s something wonderful about being able to imagine what Google might tell me, or making up answers for myself out of whole cloth. I like having some time spent in my own head, instead of strapped into the groupthink machine, just for a little while. Though that Smell-o-gram idea is starting to grow on me, for Cricket’s sake.

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“I’m waiting.”