Belonging in public spaces

I’m going through and rescuing some old drafts that got lost in the draft box, so hopefully for the next couple weeks I’ll be posting more frequently. Some of the details might be a bit out of date, though, although sometimes I will try and update the post.

I don’t belong in public spaces. They are full of people with their people-rules.

There are parks and lakes and walks nearby where I live. I can’t go outside in them alone. I can’t go in shared space alone.

So I got a dog.

When I have a dog, walking in public is my space too.

This one needs some updating.

Don’t worry, friends. I do go outside alone now. I don’t normally just chill in a park by myself reading or something (although I am fine doing that on the college campus where I work now–random aside: one big bonus of working on a college campus is that during summer I can just go literally nap on the quad maybe by the English department where no one who knows me will see me and (1) people will just think I’m at a meeting or something productive and (2) it’s totally completely normal.) Also I do–and always have done–normal and necessary living things like walking to get places. I just tended to (and still do) feel uncomfortable just sitting around not doing things around strangers.

Also, I have learned the best ways around this is to embrace the early mornings and late nights. Summer mornings at 5am are wonderful. It’s just me and the dog (or sometimes just me) and a sunrise. Fall mornings at 5am are also wonderful. They are just also significantly darker. But when I’m riding my bike back from lab at 5am, even though I’m riding back in the dark and I’ve just been at work for 8 hours when normal people are supposed to be sleeping, I’m just incredibly happy. Everything is dark and empty and QUIET. It’s just me and my bike and the occasional early morning delivery van. 5am is my favorite time in the city.




There are things I know I need to do if I am going to be happy and productive and just generally function as myself and get the things done that I need to have done.

I need to go outside. Even if it is freezing cold, I have to go outside regularly. And not just walking-to-and-from the bus stop, but wandering outside by trees. Luckily, I live by a lake. Unluckily, I am bad at forcing myself to go outside, even if I know it will make me happy. Also, I am uncomfortable going outside by myself if I’m not going somewhere directly. I haven’t worked out that why, but I know it’s true.

I need to exercise. It doesn’t have to be extremely vigorous episode, but I’m definitely happier if I have the chance to dash around a bit from place to place. Little bursts of running about and around. Going on runs makes me feel better, but I’ve never been able to stick to a consistent running schedule for more than a week.

I need to eat regularly also, for maybe-probably-obvious-reasons AKA food is important to function. And I stop functioning quicker-than-average when I am hungry. But I’m also bad at remembering when I’m supposed to eat, even with Todoist reminders and alarms and lists. (And once I remember to eat, I have difficulty figuring out what to eat and the steps to eat, especially if I am already to a hungry-reduced-functioning-level.)

I’m happier when I have regular physical contact. Physical contact makes me feel grounded. But boyfriend lives relatively far away and works decently long and I can only see him on weekends. And most people are not in my comfortable-with-physical-contact-list… and also it would be weird I think since mostly I encounter fellow lab mates on a daily basis.

Luckily, there is a solution to all these problems.

This is Rocket.

Black retriever mix smiling at the camera

He reminds me to go outside several times a day. He makes it not scary and makes it fun. We go on walks with little bits of running to chase geese into the lake.

Big black dog looking at geese in the lakeblack doggie snuggling on a couch

He gets two meals a day and feeding him reminds me that I need to eat. And he is always willing to snuggle with me.

He also solves my used-to-taking-care-of-things habits that come from growing up with goats and dogs and sheep and horses and rabbits and chickens. Life always feels incomplete without something to take care of it. And as much as I like my plants and Dr. Seuss, taking care of them did not use all that much of my input or effort.

For clarification purposes, this is my super-pretty-but-not-very-
cuddly betta who is named Dr. Seuss.