Saturday, September 18, 2010

These Boots Were Made For Walkin'

It's pretty easy to knock me off my feet confidence-wise. I know I'm supposed to roll with the punches of life so I try but that means I'm also a little easier to convince of things. Especially when I'm in a situation where I already feel unsteady I'm ready to believe the next person who says, "This is what you should do."

At Blogher I apparently came across to a few people as weird to the point of being scary, nearly stalker-like. It's because I introduced myself in person as Kizz. Kizz isn't my given name. It is, though, a nickname I was given in college, 23 years ago, that has seeped into everyday life. I chose it as my handle when I started writing online because it was sufficiently removed from my legal name to give me some measure of safety. I actually felt as though I were blogging anonymously for a while until I realized that fully half the people I know in real life call me Kizz or Kizzy. I'm not anonymous here at all.

Some people at Blogher, though, expected that I would introduce myself in person with my given name. But to me Kizz is my name so I used that. They took it to be like Maggie Mason introducing herself as Mighty Girl instead of Maggie and it creeped them out. Doug/Laid Off Dad is the one who finally pointed that out to me. I'd corresponded with him briefly before the conference hoping to meet other NYC bloggers in person before 2400 bloggers descended on the city, a sort of toe-dipping preparation, if you will. Our schedules didn't work out to meet but, apparently, he was also highly creeped by my continuing to sign my correspondence as Kizz. I'm not sure how we got on the topic, probably my business card with my given name and nickname on it led him to ask why I was such a shady lady. Standing there in a loud party trying to explain myself I felt like the lamest loser ever. After a weekend of introducing myself to new people and being "on" every minute it was inevitable that one small misunderstanding would push my fragile introvert heart over the edge. I was glad we were ready to leave the party after that. Couldn't get away fast enough.

This morning I did not want to go to the park. A girl who does not thrive on being socially interactive now has to go an interact with people every morning before breakfast. It doesn't help that we're also negotiating the delicate interactions of our dogs as well. I went anyway, armed with training devices and luring myself with two things; the promise of a dog who can be off leash in the near future and the final episode of Season 1 of Lost when I returned home.

Halfway around the perimeter of the park, not 15 minutes after leaving the house, an off leash dog with a shock collar engages Eddie. I'm keeping hold of the leash because I don't know this dog and if he'll stay close or lure Eddie farther away and toward other distractions that would ultimately lead to squashed dog on a busy road. The dogs seem to be having great fun. From behind me I hear something that sounds like, "Are you training your dog?" repeated a couple of times. I have a training lead, I'm wearing one of those special treat bags as a fanny pack, I have a clicker hanging from my wrist. I don't turn around right away because I'm sure she'll realize how silly the question is and I want to keep my eye on the dogs. Finally, as this woman comes striding abreast of me I'm able to distinguish that she's actually commanding, "Will you rein in your dog?" over and over in exactly the same tone of middling urgency. I immediately think that she thinks her dog is taunting mine and is removing it so I won't be angry. I'm actually glad because I want him to get all the running he can. So, trying to keep the interaction going I say, "I'm sorry. It's fine for my dog, I didn't realize it was a problem for you." as I reel Eddie in. She raises her chin high over her shoulder as she passes and says imperiously, "I just don't like those long leashes."

And I nearly burst into tears.

Newsflash Smarty Knowsitall, I don't like these long leashes either but it's a step toward having a properly trained dog so I'm using it. I'm also generally keeping my dog out of the most crowded areas and trying really hard to let him meet other dogs on his own terms and play with the ones he likes. Am I doing it well? I do not know. I suspect the answer is no and I hate that with all my being because, in the immortal words of Ed Harris, failure is not an option.

Rather than saying anything intelligent back I stood there as she breezed on with all her friends and their blissfully off leash dogs. I stood there waiting because they'd now overtaken me on the path we'd been taking so if I continued I'd have been chasing along after them stuck in a terrible loop. Eddie stood at my heel without prompting for the 3 or 4 minutes until I thought they must be far enough ahead that we wouldn't catch up. Finally I collected my shit and moved off. Not 200 yards ahead, just around a corner this woman had stopped to have a chat with her friends and their dogs. Now I have to decide do I keep walking on through and by her or do I change my route so we don't have the same issue?

You know I changed my route as sure as I fled that party because I'm just not strong enough on the subject right now to fight that battle. But I hated that I did that, just as much as I hate that my dog can't be off leash yet. As I walked up over a ridge above the path and looked down on her and her expensive rain boots I wanted so much to just shoot her the double birds. Didn't like that about myself either.

Later on I was with friends, which helped, and Boots and her dog came by. There were many other dog distractions between us so we didn't engage. In fact her dog was headed right for the dog water fountain. There was a small child already at the fountain. She'd been playing with other dogs and was, I think, playing with the dog water which was at her level. Her dad was right there with her making sure she had good dog manners. From many yards away Boots began to call with her same middling urgency, "He's not great with kids." over and over. The child continued doing what she was doing and the dog began to drink and Boots broke into a run and changed her tune to, "Please take your child away, please take your child away!" And the guy did.

Now I'm even sorrier about that because, dude, the rule about off leash is that your dog has to be under your control and hers clearly is not. He was certainly not to be blamed for his interaction with Eddie but if he's a kid-biter then it's all on Boots to make sure he stays away from kids not, for damn sure, the other way around.

It's true I don't know her shit any more than she knows mine so perhaps she's just having a bad day. An expensively-shod, entitled, lazy, bad day. I hope she's an occasional visitor to the park.

I also hope that next time we meet, because surely there will be a next time, I'm just not that lucky, I'm able to construct a logical, intelligent, direct response that defends my dog, me and the rest of the park. I know that I don't handle this kind of socialization well at any time, much less when I'm unsure of my actions, but I also know that, if I'm going to reach these fucking goals with this dog I'm just going to have to get better. There may be compromise at some juncture but I can't give up.

I so very much want to give up.

In the mean time, if there's anything you'd like to question me about, can we just put a pin in it until tomorrow, please?


  1. I almost burst into tears with you at that snobby so-and-so's remark. I'm the same kind of introvert it seems. Let me know if you figure out how to overcome it!

  2. When we take Hooper out, he has to be on a leash period. He's a runner. That's what he does. We know this and that's why we do what's best for our dog. That's all you are doing for Eddie. That other woman can shove it.

  3. F that in the A.

    she can shove it.

    you are awesome.

    your dog kicks her dogs flea ridden behind.

    and B) you are awesome.

  4. Sounds like she is the one that needs a shock collar. Isn't there etiquette... or a list of rules about the dog park?
    Seems you were following yours. But you've expressed more than once... this is a new dog. You are not as confident with him yet as you will be. And you will be. I have no doubt. You are putting in the work and the time. Good person=good dog.
    As for being anonymous... well, I taught Noodle when she worked with me at the bookstore... and encounter strangers everyday to tell them when they asked... and they always asked... "Where do you go to school?" Common question but one with very little relevance to a child... to say "My Mother asked me not to say."
    Some people got offended. Some did not and understood that I was training my child to deal with strangers. The ones that did get offended... Cluck um. They were bad people as far as I was with intent or potential intent to do harm.
    I remain anonymous in my blogging. I just do. Its a choice and its my choice. And just like with Noodle... if someone perceives it as creepy or weird... so be it.
    I prefer the invisible fence between me and the creepy ones.
    There is so much inside you... wonderful stuff. You are an actress, talented and gifted as a writer and a loving and kind person.
    Act as such.
    Or act however the who ha hell you want to babe...but don't waste a time second guessing yourself...
    you are one of the smartest women I know.

  5. If she owns a shock collar, she wasn't just having a bad day. If her off-leash dog can't be around kids, and her solution is to remove the kids - she's not going to be any better next time. She sounds like an occasional park person, because none of us has punched her in the face. But just in case, I'm really good at preparing the perfect response we always wish we had last time... for next time. Sleeping on it; words-as-weapons list to come. I know I can do better than "shut up and leash your own fucking dog."

  6. oh she's one of *those.*

    i know this is easier said than done, but try to ignore her very existence. barring that, just start calling her EB...when i worked retail, this was the callsign we used to point out an entitlement bitch. she fits the term perfectly.

  7. Hey Kizz, I just want to say that given your willingness to blog really frankly about sex, I think keeping your "how to look me up and stand outside my apartment" name to yourself at BlogHer was okay. I think the people who wanted to know your actual name should have asked.

    Things will get better at the park, I'm sure. People who don't take proper care with their dogs (like Boots-bitch) bug me almost as much as people who don't bother to parent their kids.

  8. you're awesome. period. and i hope you're right that EB-Boots is occasional, ppl like that suck. (i could maybe run her off the path for you on my morning jaunt?) fragility? i so get that. and as for using kizz? i don't get the creeped part, like the other laura, they just had to ask! it's not like you hide things, and while i didn't know you lived across the street from reading your blog, I certainly knew you were in the 'hood, you don't go to great lengths to hide yourself. xo from your neighbor :).

  9. I dealt with an uppity dog person at that park, too. Remember my little friends that were too young to have a Jack Russell named Penny, but there they were anyway, with a bad dog and no parental supervision... They came up to me very sad one day and pointed at a lady that told them they were not allowed to come back to the park. And I'm all like, lady, how about you help them instead of ban them because clearly they don't have parents on their side. Anyway...when I read this story, I liked to pretend it was the same lady with a questionable moral compass.