Category Archives: Personal

Darby’s Last Day

I woke up extra early this morning, on a Saturday, with a pit in my stomach. Trying not to feel so sick, I looked over to see my dog snoozing on the futon next to my bed. “Good morning, sweet girl,” I said, for the last time.

Before we got Darby in 2004, I was terrified of dogs. 14 years later, I’m terrified of life without one.

She was the runt of her litter, tiny and trampled by her brothers and sisters on the day we got her. I was 8 years old. She was so small that she had to wear a cat collar.

It’s so incredible that we got to spend 14 years with this quirky Coonhound-Doberman mix. Everyone thinks their dog is the best dog, but Darby truly was a once in a lifetime dog. She was so sweet and so funny. She boldly stole chicken nuggets from my plate, gave side-eye when she felt ignored, and would kick golf balls back and forth to herself on the wooden deck. We lived close to the shore. She was afraid of the water, but constantly tried to eat crabs on the beach.

She quickly stole the hearts of my entire family. My mother, who once insisted that our dog would mostly stay outside as her dogs had when she grew up, shared her master bed with Darby. The dog’s preferred sleep number was a solid 25, in case you were wondering.

Darby’s silly yet sweet temperament became the focal point of our whole family dynamic. My parents initially joked that Darby surpassed me in the family ranks. In our four person family, I became #5.

There are so many moments with her I will never forget. When I cried in the weeks before my high school prom, she sat extra close to me and licked my hands. When she revenge-shat on a stack of my laundry (her only real accident in our house, and one that my parents will never not find funny.) The many times I sat in the grass next to her as she outstretched her silky body in the sun. She was a pizza crust vacuum and sass queen.

I liked my dog more than I liked most people. Friends came and went, but I always had my little buddy. Whenever I didn’t want to face unfavorable realities in my life, I’d gloss over them to focus on her. “Well…how is the dog?” I’d say over the phone, when I was at college and didn’t want to have hard conversations.

A few months ago, we found out she had cancer. A mass started to grow in her mouth. I was heartbroken, and I cried in my apartment about the thought of her leaving us. I started coming home from college every weekend, just to get more time with her. As the mass grew, and began to bleed and smell, she mostly was still the same happy-go-lucky dog. A week ago, I watched her hop in the yard after a squirrel as if she was 12 years younger. At my arrival, she would still wap her tail back and forth. At the same time, I realized that she was ready to go, no longer able to go up the stairs by herself, and skipping meals. 14 years is an incredible amount of time to have with a dog. I know that. When I arrived home for our last day together, I noticed the black mass that once hung from her mouth was missing. My mom informed me that it fell off two days ago. She wasn’t in any less pain, but I’m glad that thing fell off. I’m sure she felt more comfortable by its absence. I thought I’d be okay today, knowing how lucky we were to get 14 years, but at around 12:30 I found myself desperately crying to my mother in the kitchen, “Can’t you just cancel it? We can take care of her if she falls again!” As the day ticked by, the countdown aspect of this was extra haunting. I’m not ready to say goodbye yet.

Moving forward, it’s going to be so hard. I’m anticipate a hollow feeling in my household as I pass by all of her favorite places. Even the places where she once puked on the carpet will hold sentiment.

Over the summer, I found a golden, tarnished, heart-shaped locket in my childhood bedroom. The chain broke, so it was just a pendant. It was from fourth grade, and I was so amused. I thought inside there would be some embarrassing remnant of an old crush. Lord knows what fourth grade me could’ve put in there. Would it be Jesse McCartney or the name of a kid in my class? I pried it open to find a picture of Darby in there. My heart’s desire in fourth grade was my dog. I attached the pendant to my bracelet and I’ve worn it every day since.

Darby spent her last day like a queen, with plenty of bacon and belly rubs. I lost an incomparable love from my life today, but god, I am so thankful.

Relating to Lana Del Rey is a red flag, and I’m doing alright.

There have been so many things I have wanted to write here, I promise. I have lists of ideas scribbled on napkins, ripped notebook pages, and bulleted lists clogging up my iPhone notes. It’s just…that I can’t write them. For some reason, within the last month or so I’ve built up a stigma about posting to this blog. Everything I write for it, I delete. If this makes the cut, it’ll be a miracle. I don’t know if this thing started back up recently because The Funyun now has over 1K followers on Twitter (I kind of have a feeling deep down that’s definitely not it) but in the past I have grappled with the whole “writing for an audience” vs. “writing for me” type of thing. I’d like to think that I write for me but also like, aren’t we all writing so that someone reads it and receives it well? Was this ever a thing I did that was “just for me” ? You can’t answer that. I certainly can’t answer that. Here comes the crippling self-doubt and existential meltdown that at 21 years old I am appropriately having. 

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I’m in a very transitional part of my life. If I’m being honest, I don’t really know who my friends are. I don’t do a lot of things for fun. I recently just left a job that I was working at pretty much full time. Since the end of April I was either at work, doing other creative work, or asleep. I have friends, sure. Although often it seems that my best friends have their own best friends, if that makes sense. This is just something I’ve gotten used to after using the past 3 years throwing myself from one work environment into the next, trying to fool myself out of an anxiety disorder. Spoiler alert: you can have the best grades, the best job, and still be an anxious mess. How unfair, right? Anyways, I am sitting here, age 21, just thinking about how at age 13 I was probably in the same mindset. Isn’t it funny how life works out?

I have still been writing, and enjoying doing so on a platform where I feel less paralyzed. This summer I’ve been writing for Mack In Style, a lovely fashion and lifestyle blog. That’s been great. You can find that writing here, here, and here

I’ve started going to therapy a while back. It turns out pretending to relate to Lana Del Rey lyrics wholeheartedly can often be a sign of something else. For a while I was a die hard Marina Diamandis and Lana fan that I swore their often sad aesthetic accurately portrayed the anxious mess inside my head. I wanted to embody Lana, in a way. In high school once a guy told me that I looked like Lana at school one day and at the time I thought was the nicest thing. The fact I even remember that compliment says something about my obsession with her. This week Lana’s new album Lust For Life came out, and I found myself staring at the ceiling listening track by track thinking back to the times when I angstily thought she understood me. Honestly? Her music has phonetically not changed at all. The songs sound exactly the same. It didn’t bother me, but the fact that I am now recognizing how beautiful and romanticized her angelic voice makes depression sound did bother me. She makes sickness sound so sweet. As a teen I totally bought into it; that somehow my discomfort was beautiful and cruel in a way. It wasn’t. That is bullshit; but those intrusive thoughts are easily brought to surface when your mind is already halfway there and a practical angel sings you into validating those sad thoughts. 

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Anyways, off the Lana tangent, I also stopped going to therapy. I’m still figuring my mind out. If I learned anything from what has been the hardest school year of my life is that I truly am my own biggest roadblock. 

I have a bright future. I work really damn hard, but that’s all not going to matter if I am not mentally there for myself. I’m not sure how to be there for myself yet. Outsiders love to tell me their own remedies to anxiety, I’ve noticed. Drink water, try this natural thing I like, make new friends, go out – and while it’s nice of them to think of me, most of that advice isn’t going to personally help me, but rather just give the person offering advice a better feeling about the whole thing. I’m learning that I need to learn what makes me happy. It seems crazy to some that I’ve forgotten what does. 

I’m working on it, I promise. 

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