Category Archives: Bryson

Friday Fun Facts

  • Working from home is every bit as delightful as you’d imagine. You should actually be completely jealous of me every Friday.
  • I had announced (to my husband) boycotts of Walgreen’s and DirecTV after being pissed off by both companies in the same week. But then DirecTV was installed properly, and I. Am. Obsessed.  Walgreens’ photo department can still suck it.
  • You just can’t not like the Miami Dolphins.
  • I decided to cancel the event planning because Flip, Flip, Flip-irginia just isn’t as catchy. (We are friend soul mates if you understand this one.)
  • My dog is special needs. It worries me that maybe God is preparing us for some really high maintenance kiddos. Ok, his special needs are severe allergies, but still!
  • Clayton stopped to get me coffee creamer after working an on-call shift until 12:30AM. Without me asking him to. I don’t think I really need to expand on the countless ways that shows how much we’re meant for each other.
  • I still bleed garnet and gold.
  • Our kickball team has started the season with three wins. That’s approximately three times the number of calories I’ve burned playing kickball.

Happy Weekend!

On Summer

This whole experience of moving has come with a seemingly endless well of firsts. And I’m talking in just the last three hours there has been a growing list. Like right now, it’s almost 1AM and I’m just now using the office in our “new” house specifically for writing. It’s intended purpose from the start. Feels pretty good. It might feel better if the sudden kick into the blogosphere wasn’t the result of “To Catch a Predator”-induced insomnia. Seriously, why is that show on television? To reduce overpopulation by changing the minds of potentially potential parents? To help socially uneasy twenty-somethings begin accusing every city workman or grocery clerk or emergency room doctor of sending IMs of their hoo-hoos to 13-year olds? Well, mission accomplished, Chris Hansen. Now get your cameras out of my neighbor’s kitchen.

Beyond that, life has been pretty good to us this summer. We moved into a three bedroom rental house that is old enough to be charming but updated enough to keep us hot, cold, and cleansed at all the right times. (Once we figured out that we had to turn the gas on for hot water, of course. Raise your hand if you grew up in Florida where heaters were installed just for the irony.) I’ve settled in quickly and (brace for it) happily. I absolutely adore this house and totally understand why people drain their savings and sit on naked floors for months to call something this personal their very own. There are too many perks to name, but the biggies are the safe, tree-filled streets, the huge backyard for Bryson (complete with full size picnic table and working grill left by the previous tenants), the guest bedroom we will guilt our friends and family to use in the next 10 months, and the third bedroom that I got to claim as my office. If picking paint colors and an area rug solely with the purpose of inspiring creativity won’t jump-start a career, then you should probably re-think your goals. This beautiful new-to-me space will not rot away collecting dog hair on my watch.

Which brings me to the fistful of writing projects I came home with after a meeting with my corporate contact last week. I’m too excited to jinx this new wave of work by talking about it. But it certainly forced us to whip this office into working order.

We were also lucky enough to spend two weeks in Florida this July. After a brain freezing circus of figuring out possible logistics, we ended up doing everything Clayton was opposed to: driving the entire way and bringing Bryson. Neither turned out to be disastrous, although we did end up at a vet’s office less than a week into the trip. First was Pace, where we met and smothered our first (and possibly the world’s cutest) nephew, Caden Noa. We babysat twice, and only once did I find myself in a panic that involved a volcanic explosion of murky poo up the back of baby Caden’s diaper and onto my forearm while he lay screaming on the too-small changing pad on the floor while my husband was out walking the dog. I think that scenario was avoided in the future thanks to my quick adaptable learning skills and the DeathCom Level 10 laser stare Clayton received when he came smiling back into the house from his little canine excursion. I’ve come to expect a certain atmosphere at my in-laws’, and the knowing has allowed me to develop an affection for all things I might encounter on a trip to Pace. I can honestly say it was nice to see my family.

We had a pit stop in Tallahassee for Clayton to perform Best Man duties at our good friend’s wedding. Tallahassee was quite a tornado of activity and meet-ups with as many people as we could squeeze in. I can’t describe the warmth of seeing friends after months of a friend drought. Like saying  screw it to the size four skinny jeans and letting it all out in those baggy boot-cut sixes. While popping a Valium.

We ended our trip in Tampa. A place that I fantasized about leaving and now miss like one of my dearest friends. The city I rolled my eyes at when my brother boasted of its perfection and pointed out its unassuming but noticeable skyline. Tampa. I didn’t love her until I left her. Ok, this is sounding way too Nicolas Sparks. So we parked it in Tampa. Clayton could only stay two days before having to fly back to Virginia and get back to work. I, however, am surprised I’m not still there, lounging around on a raft in my parents’ pool with Diet Peach Tea and Us Weekly. I can’t say I had my fill of chats with best friends or poolside afternoons or lazy evenings watching a lazy sunset melt into the Bay surrounded by my family. But I did get a fix that should hold me for awhile. A short while. Getting in the car to drive home was made easier because it was no longer the first of the goodbye hugs along this journey, and because I don’t have the capacity for emotion before 5AM. The long drive didn’t feel that long at all, and Bryson and I were back. Just like that. I still don’t really know if I left ”home” to come back, or came back “home.” I think I’m still working that out. I guess we’ll see at Christmas.

Sit. Stay. Sweat.

It’s been an adventurous weekend. There have been two never-tried-before experiences, and it’s only Sunday morning.

Yesterday marked the first day of the rest of Bryson’s life. It was our first dog training class, and I think there is a glimmer of hope that we won’t have to scrounge up the receipt from over a year ago and plop him on the counter at the Humane Society and ask for our money back. This particular trainer was recommended by several different people, and, though long-winded enough to turn an hour -long class into two hours, I trust he knows his stuff. The first class induced a bit of eye rolling beforehand when we heard it was all about teaching our dog to sit, lie down, and stay. Duh. We have those commands down. As long as there are absolutely no distractions and Bryson is  just a little bored, slightly sleep-deprived, and thoroughly well-fed, he will sit, lie down, and stay just fine. Apparently, that’s not good enough for Mr. Dog Training Perfectionist, who has this crazy notion that our dog should obey us at all times, no matter what. Whatev. We paid the fee, so we’re going with it.

If this training was all about winning Cutest Dog in the Class, that one’s in the bag. We could have shown up, picked up our certificate and left, thank you very much. There was slight competition from the pair of German Shepherd puppies, but those stick-straight six-inch ears kind of freak me out. The trouble comes when Bryson actually has to sit still so mom and dad can learn how to be the alpha dogs. The first command came at the beginning of the class, and it was directed at the owners: “Ignore your dog, and don’t let it interact with the other dogs.” Sure thing, pal. We’ll just ask this 80-pound, 14-month old hound/retriever mix to ignore the overwhelmingly pungent odor of animal urine and feces and the 4-month old puppy licking at his nose and doing back flips two inches from his face. Because we’re really good at controlling our dog, obviously. We just signed up for dog training to get a front row seat for your borderline offensive jokes about your Asian yoga buddy. An hour and a half lecture/attempt at a dog themed stand-up routine later, Clayton and I had completely worked out every muscle in our arms while “ignoring our dog” and keeping him shoved up against our legs as hard as we could. Bryson was only mildly deterred, and my forearms are still sore. Could be a long eight weeks.

Clayton and I committed to this training, though. After a few bouts of aggressive behavior in the past three months, this is basically our last hope of having a well-behaved dog that we can trust in any situation. Clayton and I are in total agreement that whenever (fictitious) Baby Noa arrives, he or she will not have to share the house with an unpredictable dog, no matter how unbearably adorable he is.

To relieve some stress, I finally made good on a standing invitation to a yoga class with a friend of mine. As active as I am, I’ve never done yoga before. I was extra apprehensive about this particular class because it is “hot yoga,” which means exactly what it sounds like. The room is kept at 100 degrees. I don’t like to sweat, but it’s been something I’ve become rather good at. Running, golfing, sneezing, blinking, my Cuban genes kick in and there you go. I didn’t want to embarrass myself and be the only person forced to swim out of the class in a puddle of my own sweat. Everyone else would be set with a little dab here and a pat there; I would have to soak up and wring out.

But this morning I gave in, and before I even had coffee, I was downward-facing dogging it. And I think I’m hooked. It didn’t feel nearly as hot as I was imagining it. I’m guessing that’s because I was anticipating 100 degrees as it would feel in the middle of a Florida summer — record-breaking humidity, mosquitoes buzzing around your head, and watching your nose transition from white to pink to lobster in ten minutes. Compared to that, hot yoga felt more like a spring day. It was relaxing and energizing at the same time. According to the instructor (yogi? yoger? yogista?), you really shouldn’t compare yourself to anyone else; it’s just you and your mat. So I didn’t even notice that my friend had a much better warrior pose than I did or that I held my left leg in the crossed-over-your-right-leg-tucked-behind-your-calf pose longer than the chick behind me. It was just me and my mat. That I rented. And didn’t see anyone disinfect before planting my face on it.

If the poses weren’t therapy enough, you get a 5-minute cool down at the end of class. It’s much more of a literal cool down in hot yoga, as in the yogista walks around and puts a cold washcloth on every one’s forehead. At first, I thought she might just be giving me one because of my aforementioned predisposition to get blinded by own sweat. But I wasn’t sure because I was following directions and not comparing my cooled off forehead to anyone else’s. On the way out, though, I definitely saw other people, mainly the ones still lying motionless on the floor, soaking up the icy goodness of their own forehead washcloths.

Moral of the story: Bryson’s learning to sit. I’m learning to sit without a chair while balancing on one leg.

A Mortifying Moment of Motherhood

In the wake of a chaotic, which-way-is-up month, I realized that poor Bryson must be completely confused with all the changes that have taken place over the past four weeks. First, strangers invaded his house accompanied by a 3-pound chihuahua. To avoid further stress and a potential law suit, we kept the dogs separated for the three days they were in the same house. I think it’s safe to say that Bryson did not understand our intention, and he let us know it loudly. Often.

Then, Bryson had to spend his first Christmas with his grandparents. He didn’t get any presents (don’t judge; we’re starving students) and didn’t even have a stocking at their house.

A few days after he got back to his house, we packed everything up and moved him again, back with the grandparents. Except this time, we came, too, along with his crate and all his toys. Confusing? You bet. Especially for a dog who won’t be invited to any sort of intelligence competitions in the near future.

So, pushover that I am, I started feeling guilty about filling Bryson’s life with all of these incomprehensible changes. For a little mother-puppy bonding time, I decided to take him to PetSmart with me to get him more food. Now, Bryson’s not the easiest dog to handle in public. He has an overwhelming need to meet every single person who happens to be outside of their house at the same time he is, and if there is another dog in his sight, you can just throw in the towel for any hope of things remaining calm. Knowing all this, we took our field trip early in the morning and pulled in the parking lot five minutes before the store opened.

We make it into the store, to the dog food, and up to the register without incident. There are very few people in the store and I shielded him from seeing the two dogs in the back near the grooming section. Of course, Bryson is playing scent police and sniffing every fiber of every item that we pass, but that’s what dogs do. Bryson just does it a lot better than most. While I am checking out, Bryson continues to pull and tug away from me to sniff this one particular spot on the floor that is a convenient six inches farther away than his leash will allow. When the credit card receipt prints out, I have to sign a copy. I try to sign it with the pen in my one free hand, but scent patrol is hot on the trail of that one insatiating smell and refuses to succumb to my yanks on his collar. I cannot keep the receipt stationary to sign it with just one hand, so I put the pen down and try to get Bryson to come sit over by the register, or at least sniff closer so that I can lift the leash-holding hand high enough to keep the receipt in one spot. No luck. Somehow Mr. I can’t tell the difference between a knock on the door and the sound of the remote being put down on the table can sense that I am about to remove him from The Most Awesome Smelling Inch of Floor Ever, and he squirms. And he squirms in such a calculated, athletic, swift way that he ducks right out of his collar.

Next comes the terror. The immediate, gripping feeling of not knowing what in all of earth and heaven this dog is about to do. I stare at him, he stares at me, and all of a sudden, he knows. He’s realized his freedom, and he’s off. No longer is he interested in that mildly entertaining spot on the floor right next to the register, his curiosities have expanded to the first and second aisles of PetSmart. To the dust on the bottom shelves, the storage spaces under the closed registers, every package within reach of his supernose. Everything but his mother’s desperate, beckoning call. I tried my very best to keep my voice calm, not to spring into attack mode and turn this pursuit into a sprint down every aisle of the store. But he knew. He knew that though my voice said, “Come here, Bryson. Come on, Bryson. Get a treat, Bryson” my eyes said “So help me God, Bryson, if I ever get my hands around your neck, you might not ever smell a single butt ever again.” I could see it in his face: he really, really wanted that fictitious treat, but was it worth this new found freedom? he wondered. No! He concluded. And off he scooted around the registers towards the door.

But don’t worry. The employees of PetSmart are thoroughly trained, even-keeled professionals. The cashier that was ringing me up didn’t miss a beat. When Bryson began his storewide investigation, she moved right along to the next customer. By the time Bryson mosied back up that way, the other customer was already halfway to his car. Thanks for the help, guys! It’s obvious that I’ve got this entirely under control. Thankfully, there were no more customers to help, no more packages to stock, and I guess it was too early for her to take her 15 minute break, so she pulled out a treat, said the magic word to my dog (who apparently trusted her promises of treats more than mine) and got Bryson penned in long enough for me to pounce. And squirm as he might, I had him back in his collar and back in the car within minutes. Without looking the cashier or anyone else in the eye in the process.

I’d like to recount the lecture that Bryson received on the drive home in case you ever find yourselves in a similar situation, but I haven’t decided on the maturity rating of this web site and that coversation would push it right over the PG-13 limit.


2009 in Pictures, or Following Through on My Resolution to Be Shamelessly Narcissistic

Normally this is the kind of entry that I would think about doing and never actually sit down and create. But with Clayton’s certification exam getting nauseatingly close and our move-in with my parents complete, I’ve found myself with quite a bit of free time on my hands. So, please enjoy a little snippet of those things that made up my 2009.

I’m Already Writing the Check to Replace Whatever He’s Broken

A few weeks ago my mom announced her brilliant idea for this year’s Thanksgiving festivities: a road trip! Now, I’m a big ol’ fan of road trips. I love everything about them — loading up on People magazine and easy fiction (read: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants), tons of pretzel and cheddar Combos and Fig Newtons from the gas stations, batty conversations that begin after a few hours of driving, and LOTS of passenger seat karaoke. There is a little hitch in this plan, though. My mother intended to squeeze five people into my parents’ sedan, including me with my labyrinth of painful low back vertebrae, my six-foot husband with notoriously cranky hamstrings, and my 29-year old brother in the backseat. Not exactly a recipe for giving thanks. More like a recipe for why I spent Thanksgiving somewhere along I-75 sitting on top of my suitcase pouting.

But somehow the holiday spirit or a good dose of motherly guilt have come over us, and we’ve all agreed to shut up and buckle up. We leave tomorrow morning, and I’ve decided to forget all about the cramped, stuffy, probably smelly twelve hours in the car and focus on highs in the 50′s and possible snow showers on Thursday.

About a week ago, I was telling one of my clients about the trip. She very casually asked, “So what are you doing with your dog?” And I very casually dropped my pencil and had a panic attack. In all of the excitement/attempts to finagle myself a front seat, I had completely forgot about finding a sitter for sweet, insane Bryson. My parents have always watched him for us, so we’ve never needed to look for an actual sitter; grandparents are, by definition, extended parents, not sitters. So, I racked my brain for the rest of the day and sent Clayton some desperate text messages about filing for bankruptcy if we had to board him at a kennel. On the way home I called the only person that presented any hope of offering Bryson a comfy patch of carpet for five days, my cousin Nick. He is not an animal person by any stretch, but I was prepared to beg. Nick knows me pretty well because we are exactly seven days apart in age and grew up on the same street. Here’s how the convo kind of sort of went down:

Me: Hey buddy.  I got a favor to ask you.

Nick: You need me to watch your dog.

Me: What…? I don’t, I mean, why do you, where’d that –

Nick: It’s fine. I’ll do it.


Nick: I’ve been thinking about getting a dog, so I’m actually looking forward to it.

Me: Silence.

Then we talked about logistics and when I’d deliver the goods to his house.

Me: Ok, well, thanks again!

Nick: What’s his name again?

Me: Bryson. (In my head: please don’t ask me any more questions, please don’t ask me any more questions…)

Nick: Ok, see you Tuesday.

Whew. And so began the mental unraveling of my poor unsuspecting cousin Nick. He has no idea that his life is about to be ransacked by the perfect storm of sniffing, chewing, jumping, lunging, whining, pooping, and possibly mildly retarded (according to Clayton) thinking of an eleven-month old puppy named Bryson. I am certain he won’t need to ask his name ever again. Enjoy your turkey day, Nick! We’ll be home soon.

Oh to have the strength of a canine intestinal track

Things Bryson has eaten in the last month:

Used q-tip (I don’t know if it had been used for ear cleaning or makeup removal, but neither seems hopeful.)

The stuffing of the couch cushions

The crumbs from the previous couch owner behind the couch cushions

Most of the tissues I had thrown away when I was sick

16 dog bones

The big toe portion of an athletic sock (I like to let that toe breathe, anyway.)

Leftover meatloaf (By leftover, I mean I made meatloaf about 8 weeks ago and, to avoid cleaning the pan, I put the leftovers in the refrigerator. Eight weeks later we finally threw it in the trash. Eight weeks later, Bryson found it in the trash. Explosive diarrhea at 2am followed.)

The carpet fibers that caught a spoonful of squash casserole I dropped

More dog hair than I care to recount

Half of his i.d. tag

Three  dryer sheets (Probably  not  safe, but a dog whose breath smells like mountain springs isn’t a terrible thing.)

The depressing part? He stopped teething five months ago.


If you are in the Tampa Bay area, you’re going to want to avoid the Honeymoon Island dog beach for a few days. You know, until the salt water washes away the massive piles of smeared, runny poop that Bryson used to christen the sand. My sister in law and her dog, Duke, are staying with us this weekend. And Bryson has lost his flipping mind. He is so overwhelmingly excited every second and cannot turn off the switch in his head that tells him, “Find Duke! Jump on Duke! Lick Duke’s butthole!” Thankfully, Duke is so patient and relaxed with the hyper puppy, and the boys have been playing together without any (major) incidents for the past two days.

But then we took them to the dog beach. And  a day and a half of intenese playtime/make-out sessions combined with gulping down gallons of poop-infested salt water resulted in some serious diarrhea. On the beach. With lots of people watching, wondering why our dog’s poop looked like rotten mashed avocados. It’s because he’s so stinking happy, people, so just back off. 

Clayton and I are already bracing ourselves for the week-long pouty face that awaits us when Duke leaves, but it will be nice when Bryson’s brain finally relaxes and remembers that there are two other people living in this house who would like the chance to cuddle with their puppy again. It’s those same strange people at the beach who kept running for more plastic bags when you were releasing your bowels into the Gulf of Mexico. The ones who had to scrape your smelly number two off of sand and grass and seaweed. When you get a second, I bet they’d love a nice butthole lick.

Guilt, and What to do About It

Guilt likes to visit me quite often. At any given time, I’m usually berating myself for not working enough or not writing enough or not walking Bryson enough or not cooking dinner enough… simply not being enough.

But that’s a hefty ineffectual waste of  my time. So, I’m going to work on it. I don’t know exactly what that will look like — does it mean I will have to work more and write more and (insert cringe here) cook more or does it simply mean I can stop beating myself up for not doing those things? I have a suspicion that I will make an effort to do some things better (Bryson really does need those walks), and the others, well, there’s really not a law about how many nights you’re allowed to have cereal for dinner.

Here are some of the biggies that I’d like to give a little more commitment and consistency:

talking and writing to God (because sometimes I fear I’m forgetting how)

running (because my knees mean less than 45 minutes of mental emptiness)

reading for fun (because sometimes I don’t read just because of the overwhelming thought of how many books there are that I’ll never read)

doing unexpected things for my studyaholic husband (because we both know, and never say, that he’s really studying so that I can spend the rest of my life doing all those lovely things that make me happy)

Puppy Puberty

Our Puppy Care for Dummies pocket guide tells us the following about handling our six month old hound/retriever:

“Random defiance, running off for hours, ignoring direction: Don’t take any of your pup’s frustrating behavior personally. Your puppy must challenge you in order to grow up. Through this age-appropriate behavior, she’s testing your authority to ensure that she can trust your judgment. It’s simply a part of nature.

Managing yourself is the most important concentration during this time. Anger and frustration will spell your ruin — your puppy will view your loss of control as weakness, and she’ll either assert her control or become unsure and manic.”

Bryson is roughly six months and two weeks old. After experiencing the past two weeks with him and his “age-appropriate behavior,”  I think I am going to write the editors at ol’ Puppy Care with this revision to the puppy puberty section:

“Puppy puberty will result in one or all of the following outcomes: you will murder your puppy and experience great satisfaction in the process, you will assume the fetal position and beg your puppy through desperate sobs to stop dragging the wet chew toy over your laptop, you will send the humane society an anonymous photo of your middle finger,  and/or you will not survive to see puppy adolescence. In any case, by the end of the journey you will feel closer to Michael Vick than ever before. And also, you, too, could be facing jail time.”