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Renee Dubeau

A little bird with a big song.

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Stories

I Remember what I Wanted to be when I Grow up.

I believe it was in the third grade. My teacher passed out paper and crayons to the whole class and gave us one simple assignment. We were to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up. It was likely an exercise we did at the beginning of every new school year.

It’s such a huge decision at 8 years old. There were so many possibilities- some I didn’t even know existed yet. At the bottom of the paper was the phrase, “When I grow up, I want to be a ___________.” I didn’t have to carve it in stone, I just had to choose something to write on that line.

I agonized over the decision until finally, I drew a lady behind a desk in a suit. On the line below, I wrote “journalist”. Back then, I thought a journalist was the lady who read the news on the TV, or maybe wrote a column in the news paper like Dear Abby.

This decision is memorable today for two reasons. First, because almost all the girls in my class filled in their line with the word, “cheerleader,” and most of the boys said, “football player”.

There was one little boy who drew a dinosaur skeleton. He said he wanted to be a scientist. I liked that boy. His dinosaur took up two sheets of paper. I could tell he was different, like me.

In a room full of cheerleaders, I was the only girl who chose journalism. It was basically the story of my life. I wasn’t athletic or popular in high school. I was a band geek, a literature nerd, and a social activist. I loved to read, write and create. I was passionate about the environment and animal rights.

Life took many twists and turns for me. I chose the wrong career for a season, and the wrong marriage. In my years as a bored housewife, I started writing again. I started a silly blog to share stories about my family. I never guessed in those early days of Dysfunction Diaries that I would actually become an author.

I recently remembered that drawing from third grade. Somehow my soul knew even then what its purpose is.

I’ve intentionally avoided writing about politics in the past. For some reason, I didn’t feel qualified to speak on such topics. I didn’t want the drama that could come with expressing my unpopular ideas. But, I dipped my toe into that world just before the election. Then, Trump won, and it seemed all I could do it write about it.

This gift that even my 8 year old soul could see. This voice I have been given- I will use it for good. I will channel that feisty teenager who spent her evenings banging out letters to companies about their environmental practices on an old typewriter. Together, we will rise up in the name of every single person who needs a voice right now.

Finally, thirty years later, I remember what I wanted to be when I grow up. Truly, it was the only thing I ever could be.

 

 

 

Photo credit: Pixabay

 

 

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Why We Are No Longer Welcome At The Sherwin William’s Paint Store…

I inherited a French Bulldog last January.  While I am absolutely thrilled to have him, and love him to pieces just the way he is, I must say he is the least athletic dog I have ever seen.  Thankfully, what he lacks in athleticism, he makes up for in immortality, which is lucky for him because he is prone to accidents. One of these accidents, unfortunately, was my fault.

I woke early one morning this summer and decided to take Bo, the immortal French Bulldog, for a walk.  We live approximately four city blocks from my favorite Juice Bar.  I thought, surely, Bo could make the trip from our apartment to the Juice Bar and back safely.  It was early in the morning, it wasn’t even hot out, and it’s only four blocks away.

The trip there was a piece of cake.  We strolled leisurely along.  Bo stopped to smell every blade of grass and tinkle on every tree all the way there.  When we reached the Juice Bar, I tied Bo to a table on the porch and went inside to get a green smoothie for me, and an ice water for him.  We sat on the porch for a little while enjoying the beautiful day before beginning the journey back home.

It’s important to note that French Bulldogs are genetic anomalies.  They do not exist in nature, and for good reason.  Their cute, little, squishy faces make it impossible for them to breathe.  On a good day, Bo sounds like he could suffocate on his own jowls at any moment.  With physical exertion, like walking four blocks, he sounds like asthmatic Darth Vader with a smoker’s cough.

After about a half a block, Bo started huffing and puffing.  His little tongue flapping in the breeze as he slowed his pace gradually.  No problem, I thought.  We’ll take it slow.  There was plenty of shade, it wasn’t hot to begin with, and any healthy dog should be able to manage the easy trip.

As we neared the half way point, Bo stopped dead in his tracks.  He stood still as a stone on the side walk for a minute, then took a few clumsy little side steps into the grass.  He fell out in the grass, all spread out like a big, furry bullfrog.  Heaving for air, he stayed there in the shade.

After several minutes, Bo’s breathing was still labored.  Passersby stared at him with concern.  Certainly, it was the loud huff puff huff puff huff puff that caught their attention.  Some smiled a silent, “Bless your heart.” as they walked by.  I gently tugged on the leash to encourage Bo to stand up.

“B*tch, I’m dying!” he glared at me.

It was becoming apparent that Bo would not make the journey home.  I needed a plan.

Then, I realized that half a block away there was a Sherwin-Williams Paint Store.  It stood high on the hill at the end of the block.  Like a light house in the storm, I knew that if we could get to it, Bo would be safe.  They were sure to have air conditioning, a cold tile floor, and some cool water for him to drink.  I did the only thing I could do.  I scooped up all 30 pounds of panting bulldog and carried him up the hill.

I breathed a deep sigh of relief upon entering the paint store.  There was, in fact, a large empty area of tile for Bo to lay on.  He spread out in his bullfrog pose again, still breathing loudly.  I left him there, and went to the ladies’ room for some cold, wet paper towels.  When I returned, Bo was dragging himself around with his front legs to find another cold spot on the floor.  He had made a large pool of saliva all around himself, and continued to drool and pant loudly.  I bent down to squeeze the cold water from the towels onto his head.

“It can’t get any worse.” I thought, right before it got even worse.

Bo struggled to stand.  His stubby legs shaking under the weight of his stout little body.  The panting was interrupted by a new sound. His insides churning and pumping, churning and pumping, the horrible sound of “I’m fixing to puke.” A mountain of vomit erupted from my dog.  Bright yellow chunks of half chewed dog food in thick white foam spewed from him forcefully.  The vomit river flowed below him, growing larger and larger until I picked him up and ran out the door with him.

The little girl had come out from behind the register to walk a customer to his car.  She looked at us in disgusted, silent, horror.

I put Bo down in the grass while he collected himself. Come on, Bo.  Get it together.  Fear and guilt washed over me.  You can’t die like this, Bo.  Today’s not the day.

I took my pitiful dog back into the paint store.  Again, I left him on the cold tile floor and went to the rest room.  I returned with the trash can and an entire package of paper towel and began cleaning up the floor.

Bo gave me a side eye, “How’s your green smoothie, stupid?”

I sat down by my angry, disgusting, breathless dog.  As he lay dying on the floor, an old man approached us.  He bent over curiously to examine Bo, and with a raised brow asked, “What kind of dog is that?”

“He’s a French Bulldog.”

“Huh.  It’s too hot for him.” he said, turning on his heel to return to his shopping.

Thank you, sir.  You are a marvel among men.  Tell me, where did you get your detective training?  Your intuition surpasses all others…

“How are we going to get you home, Bo?” I whispered.

Bo used his front legs to spin himself around and turn his back to me.  I contemplated just leaving him there, the grumpy little sh*t.

The old man reappeared when his shopping was finished.  “Do you live close by?”

“Yes, sir.  Two blocks that way,” I pointed.

“Do you need a ride?”

“Are you sure you want this dog in your car?” I asked.  I don’t know that I would have put him in my car at that point.

“It’s my work truck, I don’t mind.”

I disobeyed mother’s number one rule, and accepted a ride home from a stranger.

“I hope he feels better.” said the bewildered little girl behind the counter as we walked out the door.

Please don’t be a serial killer,  I thought as I gave the old man directions and lead him right to my front door.  I thanked him sincerely, and admitted that he may have saved Bo’s life that day.

I put Bo in a cool bath and apologized profusely for nearly killing him for a trip to the Juice Bar to get a green smoothie.  He barely spoke to me the rest of the day, but eventually, he forgave me.

I learned a couple of things that day.  One, GMOs are bad- this applies to all genetically modified organisms- vegetables, flowers, dogs… Nature knows how to make things correctly, and humans can really only jack that up.  Two, there is no green smoothie delicious enough for me to risk the bulldog’s life.  In the future, he will just have to wait at home while I walk down there all by myself.  Three, there are kind strangers everywhere.  They show up just  in time to save the day when you need them.  And finally, just because stores have tile floors and air conditioning, doesn’t mean they want us to bring our dying pets in there for shelter.  The young girl working behind the counter was clearly traumatized by the dramatic scene, and for that I sincerely apologize.  I am certain that my money is no longer good there, and that we are definitely no longer welcome at the Sherwin-Williams Paint Store.

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