For the past couple of days, every time I walked Izzy, it was cold and raining, and he didn’t want to poop. Seriously. That’s been my biggest problem for the last 48 hours. We’d go out around the block, he’d stop and look, pee on his bushes, stop and look again, shoot me a sad “woe is me” puppy eye, sit down (seriously, Izzy??? It’s raining!), sniff a little, then look at the rushing water in the gutter, look up at me again, and consider that he didn’t want to jump it. And wet leaves? Lordie, they’re poison! Who wants to walk through wet leaves and lower their butt to the ground to do their thing. Not Mr. Izzy. No way. Sigh.
So, instead of our usual five walks a day, it’s been more like seven, and each time, I stand there, shivering, saying, “Good boy, Izzy. Now, poop! C’mon, Izzy, you can do it.” And each time, he didn’t. Until the second walk this morning, and by that time, I was already late for work, and he knew I was getting itchy — and irritated. But at least it’s done, and I can relax.
I seem to remember going through the same thing last year at this time. It was raining and cold. I wasn’t excited about going out for walks and neither was Izzy. It was our first year living in Roxboro, our first Thanksgiving together, my first holiday alone. Ever. This year makes two. Second year living here, our second Thanksgiving together, my second Thanksgiving alone. My savior? Writing!
I’m convinced whoever conceived of National Novel Writing Month must have been single and hating facing the holidays alone. The best way to get through them was to keep extraordinarily busy. “Oh, I have an idea! Why don’t I write a novel during November? Commit to at least 50K words on the page, then I can take December to do some rewriting (or finish the novel) and by January, I’ll have a bright and shiny new story to start sending out to agents and editors.”
Last year, I sat at my desk over the long Thanksgiving weekend and almost finished the first draft of a novel (I’m not dumb enough to send something that new out in January; I’m going to do another rewrite of it in February and March, which means the novel will have gone through at least three-four drafts before it hits an agent’s/editor’s desk), and I certainly felt better that I had survived the holiday — and was productive doing so.
This year, I’m rewriting a novel that was originally part of my dissertation. This one has gone through enormous structural changes, so even though I’m not committing 50K NEW words during this NaNoWriMo, I feel like I’m writing something even more valuable to me: a polished manuscript. This one might be ready in January or February. Depends on what my reader says when she finishes it over the Christmas holidays.
I’m sure I’m not the only Baby Boomer with a dog who’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving alone. Though most of my single friends are escaping to the warmth of a family member or friend’s house to share the turkey and the gossip and the silly jokes Aunt Milly never understands, there are plenty of us who’ll be huddled over a laptop, our favorite canine (or feline) faithfully keeping us company and making us take breaks from the writing to walk the cold, rainy streets.
Here’s to those of us who are celebrating Thanksgiving with our animals! Cheers to all those wagging tails and warm noses. I give thanks to them for keeping us all sane — and far from lonely.