Work, buses, and socialising

So the world is starting to open up again. For weeks now we’ve been able to leave our homes and travel on buses and visit non-essential shops, but it’s only in the last few days that I’ve considered lockdown to be actually over. Work has restarted for us. I’m lucky to have a job that’s taken me back, the hospitality sector is never very secure and of the 21 people employed in the kitchen I work in only eight of us were able to come back.

We’re currently open Thursday to Sunday, with shifts taking place on Wednesday to clean and prep food for the coming weekend. This gives everyone two days off at the beginning of the week, for the first time since working there we have a “weekend”, two days off to look forward to and be able to plan things for every week. It’s only for the next few weeks until business picks back up, but it’s a nice way of easing back into working life.

Back to commuter life

The menu is a lot smaller now, less staff on shifts, less prep to do, less meals to learn, they’ve made it easy on us. But even so the first weekend back was hard. The first shift even, a Thursday morning, made my feet hurt in a way they haven’t since I first started kitchen work, I was walking less than a third of the distance I would do during a lockdown day, but standing in place was causing me so much more ache than walking ever did. I’m also leading some shifts, acting as kitchen supervisor and being in charge of the small teams and tiny menu. It’s a job I did full time for a few months a couple of years ago, but ultimately the small amount of extra money from the promotion never made up for the added stress for me. Now I’m mainly doing it as a favour to my manager, a good friend of mine, and since we’re having our wages topped up by the furlough scheme I’m not actually getting any pay rise at all. It’s fine for these quiet, uncertain days, and I am happy to have a job at all. I complain about work and I insisted that I didn’t want to return, but the truth is I enjoy it there, the people I work with I largely consider as friends, and the work, while stressful at times, is satisfying and somewhat rhythmic – nothing feels better than it being a busy shift and getting into the flow of sending order after order upstairs in a timely manner and everything just coming together nicely.

New start times of 10am as opposed to the old start times of 7am have made a huge difference as well. There’s time now to get up, have a coffee and read/internet for an hour or so and then take Shadow out for an hour or so in the forest to chase sticks. It’s a nice habit, and when you’re stood in a bright, hot, busy kitchen on an afternoon it’s nice to remember the morning light of the woods where you started your day. Sadly for Shadow it also means she’s starting to re-learn how to be left by me. I worry sometimes that the lockdown has made her over-dependant on me and that she’ll struggle to adapt back into the routine of being alone at home, or being left with somebody else. Luckily for now my friend is still staying with me, luckily she’s one of the eight returning work mates as well, so we can work our shifts around each other and look after both the “kids” while the other works, this means that neither Shadow or the little girl have have their routines too disrupted, and they both get to stay with somebody they trust and know very well.

A nicer side of the service industry starting to get back to normal is how nice it’s been to go out and socialise again, and I say this as somebody who is more than happy to stay inside with my Xbox as opposed to going out and spending time with groups of people. But the simple pleasures of reading a book in a coffee shop while waiting for a friend, or going for a few drinks and ending up back at somebody’s flat have been experiences that even I missed during the long months of everything being closed.

Comforting, even if everything must be served in takeaway containers
Back on the pub crawl game

That time of the….every few months?

So one day before I was due to fly to Porto (which has obviously been cancelled due to virus stuff) and once again just before I thought I may go and visit my parents (getting away from the city would be a nice back-up holiday plan) Shadow comes on heat. She first came on heat very close to her turning six month, by which I mean I came downstairs one day and when she flopped onto her back for belly scratches I saw drops of blood on her privates, that was all. Easy, I thought, not sure why people are so dramatic about this coming into heat business. I was mostly upset because I had been planning to return to my parents’ and quarantine up there for a couple of weeks and then had to change my plans because Shadow’s parents live with my parents and I didn’t want her dad getting any incestuous thoughts (I don’t really think he would have but always better safe than sorry!).

The day she came on heat the first time, she looks how I feel when my period arrives.

So this time, when I came downstairs one morning a couple of weeks ago and found blood drops once again between her legs I wasn’t worried. Last time she seemed to clean up any blood from herself before I even saw her in the morning, and her behaviour changed very little apart from a slight increase in neediness. It appears though that her first heat was just a warm up heat, this one must be real. Now when I go downstairs there’s lots of blood drops, or blood smears on my floor (lovely white floors, very dramatic), she jumps up incessantly when greeting (which I keep reminding myself she’d almost stopped doing), she can no longer be trusted to return to me if a male dog walks by and shows an interest (I’d taken for granted her basic obedience to me), and her genitals, which last time looked exactly as they always did, are now huge and swollen and seem somehow in your face when she lies on her back (my friend says they look like balls, I can’t help but agree, and I’m not a fan).

“Please distract me from this blood-filled hell” – Shadow, probably

It’s been about two weeks now and there are still blood drops on my floor, but less of them each day. I’m not sure if she’ll move into the next phase of heat after they stop or if she’s in that now. For now I have bought a heavy duty extendable lead for use in the park and I’m trying to mostly take her to secluded places where she can be off-lead without risk of any male dogs finding their way to her. I’m looking at options of spaying her, I don’t want to breed her myself but I also don’t want to spay her too early and affect her growth or behaviour before she’s fully grown. So I’m unsure whether to wait until she’s two years old and get her spayed traditionally, or look for a vet offering an “ovary sparing spay” before then. In an ovary sparing spay the ovaries are (surprise surprise) spared and left intact, this means that all the hormones needed for healthy growth and development are still able to be released when needed, it also means though that she would continue having the symptoms of going into heat alone with her regular cycle. She wouldn’t be able to get pregnant, so I wouldn’t need to worry quite as much about other dogs, but she would think she was in heat like any other bitch and the behavioural changes, the jumpiness, the clinginess, the risk of ignoring my recall commands, would all remain. As would the swollen “balls” she loves parading around the place. Is it stupid to base decisions of your dog’s future on you not wanting to see an inflated vulva? Probably. Luckily there are other things to decide, so it’s not just based on that, it may be a factor though. I’m not sure if anyone even offers OSS around my area, or how much more it would cost than the traditional operation, but it’s still something I’m looking into. That or wait another year and a bit, I guess I’ll see when she next comes on heat and how bad it is, and I’ll do some more research into the possible side effects of both procedures into dogs in general and German shepherd specifically if I can find any (any reading recommendations/experiences gratefully received!).

So far her prey drive still outweighs her sex drive, so it’s not too hard to distract her from other dogs by simply picking up a stick or stone from the floor. So far.

Festival Season – pt 2

So after WGT is over all the attendees travel back to their respective homes and try to return to normal life. My friends and I always book our accommodation from Wednesday before the festival to the Wednesday after, giving us a day of recovery before heading back home. Usually we get up late, enjoying the bittersweet feeling of not having to rush somewhere to see bands or meet up with everyone we’ve ever met. We’ll spend our remaining euros on a relaxing meal at one of the many places we’ve not quite made it to due to having so many options on the cards (seriously, Germany is amazing for vegan food, we didn’t expect it at the beginning, now we look forward to a tour of restaraunts and cafes almost as much as we do the drinking and gig going!). At home there’s always the kind of feeling of “how do I go back to my regular life after having a week in this wonderful dreamland?”, the best way is to immediately start planning other festivals.

In addition to doing Treffen every year, we often manage to squeeze at least one other goth festival into the season. The three biggest events that crop up in my friend circles are WGT, Amphi in Köln, and M’era Luna in Hildesheim. Amphi is a big favourite, it takes place in a beautiful city, it has one of its stages on a boat, it features a lot of the more electric sounding bands of the scene, the EBM, the synthpop, the futurepop, etc etc. For my friend and my 30th birthday a couple of years ago we decided to check it out for the first time.

As opposed to always getting Airbnb  apartments in Leipzig, we opted for a hotel for this one, and it was a gorgeous, luxurious room. I very annoyingly cannot remember the name of the hotel (I’ll try and find out and link it here when I do) but it was lovely dark grey and red coloured decor, lovely views from a high floor, decent continental breakfast options included, and all important air-conditioning, it was HOT the year we went. First day there was spent exploring the city, and it’s a very pretty city.

Köln cathedral dominates the city, it’s a beautifully imposing gothic mass

There were only a few bands we wanted to see at this festival, mainly we were going to check out the city and hang out with “cocktail club” our friends from all over the UK and Europe who net at each festival and drank cocktails and talked nonsense together all night long. So the weekend kind of blurred by in a haze of boozy memories.

The other regular German festival we attend is M’era Luna, held in Hildesheim, a small town with a largely disused airfield where the festival takes place. Although there are hotels and apartments in the town, they often fill up fast and cost lots of money, for these reasons and because it’s more fun and adventurous this is the one festival that we camp at. We go with a massive group of mainly British goths by bus from Northern England, down to Dover, then across to Germany via ferry. This whole trip is organised and arranged by a lovely man nicknamed Guv’nor who runs the Facebook group Goths on a Bus:

The “North Bus” setting off from Leeds, in Yorkshire, and driving the length of the country to get to the ferry, we usually have the longest journey there and back. The rivalry between buses is a large part of the commraderie that makes the whole trip so special, it’s on this bus that my closest friends journey and together we playfully mock those from other parts of the country (“it’s just banta, innit!”)
Very important alcohol and snack options for the 20 hour coach ride, although i have somewhat lost the taste for Dark Fruits now after so many over indulgent evenings/events

We’ve been to M’era Luna three or four times now, each time we go we end up getting no sleep on the bus, staying awake all night in the cold tent, cursing people being loud and having fun until the early hours, so we curse the whole experience and say “never again!”. Then we won’t book the following year, but when people share their statuses and photos on social media when they’re there we miss it too much and immediately sign up for the next year. It’s addictive. Everything that makes it exhausting and frustrating all helps bond us closer together as a group and gives us fonder memories in the future. Perfect example being a couple of years ago, which happened to be he year we dragged a few WGT and friends along for their first time. The problems started soon after arriving in Germany – rain, torrential, constant rain. As we got closer and closer to the site the rain seemed to get heavier and heavier. As we were almost at the turnoff for the festival grounds the traffic all stopped. Massive traffic jam. We sat for three hours about 500m from our destination, as the rain poured and the playlist we were listening to looped again and again. Then we got to the camp site and it was essentially a bog. Putting tents up in the pouring rain, into muddied ground that was so soft and wet it felt fruitless. All of our clothes got wet, our sleeping bags, pillows, everything. It made for a miserable and very cold first night.

But the next day it was all laughter, everyone had spent the last day so wet and cold and annoyed that it was suddenly hilarious. We felt bonded by the experience. Instead of feeling happy that they had avoided such a situation the people staying in hotels and apartments in the town felt more like they had missed out. Later that first day we queued up to see a band in a large tent, the queue was huge and not going anywhere, so when the torrential rain began again we were trapped. As people started to get frustrated about missing the start of the band, and being trapped so close yet so far, and getting soaked through once again…a group of people nearer the front of the queue started singing, soon the whole crowd of us were singing along with the band at the top of our lungs in the pouring rain. It was so much more memorable than any of the other times I’ve seen that band live, and when we finally got into the tent to watch them properly it was nowhere near as thrilling as being outside and enjoying our own concert.

Drenched and dried out many times, looking and feeling bedraggled and sleep deprived, but happy and swearing we would all be friends for life after the shared experience

After two days of bands and three nights of camping we wake up early on the Monday, drag ourselves out of our sleeping bags and into the cold morning air. We have a mere couple of hours to be packed up and back onto the coaches to begin our journey home. Somehow nothing ever seems to fit into the suitcases as tidily as they had when we’d brought them here, and the lack of sleep makes us all weak and clumsy, but we somehow manage. It feels almost like we’d only just got there and then suddenly everything is packed up and we’re heading away again. We drive out via a supermarket so people can stock up on new snacks and buy things to take back home such as souvenirs and various alcohols that are cheaper or easier to get here than back home. I usually buy some fresh baked bread and some kind of “create your own” salad box and create sandwiches full of fresh vegetables that I’ve been craving after a weekend of eating and drinking trash.

The journey back always takes less time somehow, people usually sleep or sit in their own thoughts for the first few hours, after waking so suddenly and enduring such a tiring and rushed morning. We arrive back in Leeds very early on Tuesday morning, usually in time to get the first train home at about 4am. Getting back to our houses at about 6am, it’s always a battle between wanting to shower for the first time for so many days (there are showers at the festivals, but communal shower set ups weird me out) and wanting to fall into a comfy bed and sleep for 12 hours instead. Luckily this is usually the last festival of the summer, and the relief at being back in civilisation after being on buses and in tents for days is nice enough to offset the usual sadness at returning to normal life.

Festival season – pt 1

So with the world in it’s current pandemic ridden state nobody is really allowed to travel for non-essential reasons. I’m loving the extended time off and not having to feel guilty about missing things, or not having to feel pressured into events or socialising etc, but I am missing an important part of my yearly schedule: Festival Season.

Usually all my socialising for the year is done between the months of May and August when my best friend and I will dye our hair, re-learn how to apply makeup, exchange our understated day-to-day clothes for those with rips, safety pins, knots, and meticulously painted back prints, trainers for big, stompy boots, glasses for contact lenses for 18 hours a day, and travel to Germany for their summer of big goth music festivals.

When I talk about my music taste with people, saying I’m into goth music, and then say I’ve got a summer of festivals lined up many assume I’m off to Download, or Bloodstock, or any of the other metal/alternative festivals that have cropped up in the UK. I’ve certainly done a few years at Download, but no, I rarely bother with UK festivals at all now, and never those with lineups full of metal bands. It turns out that the music I like best, the genres that feature one or two bands strong at, say, Download have huge events of their very own on The Continent, so to The Continent we go!

My best friend first learned about Wave Gotik Treffen over a decade ago from a little site called ,created to help curious goths to navigate their way to and around the huge annual gathering that happens in May/June every year in the city of Leipzig, Germany. Pouring over the image galleries and travel details, imagining she was planning this trip for herself, my friend begged each of her own friends to accompany her one day to this massive party. I agreed immediately.

I knew I’d made the right decision when we got our first ever WGT tickets in the post; they were so pretty! Every year a new design and colour scheme. Sadly the first year’s is the hardest to see in the picture, being top left and overexposed…

So about WGT, it’s a four day long collection of events taking place all over Leipzig, attended by 18,000-20,000 people a year and featuring around 150 bands of varying “goth” genres. The stages are different city venues, some large halls, bars, clubs, theatres, an airfield, a ruined church, a vast war monument, anything that looks fitting and can fit a stage inside. Because the venues are all so spread out over the city free travel on public transport is included with the festival ticket purchase, so the whole of Leipzig is immediately opened up to be taken over by goths. New trams are put on for the duration of the event, to ferry festival goers between one side of the city to the other, stalls spring up everywhere offering met (mead), or pagan styled jewellery, or other things that may take the fancy of a passing traveller. Shops and bars get into the spirit of it as well, Primark sets up window displays of dark clothing, sweet stalls put special offers on for black ice cream, supermarkets hang creepy decorations making it look like Halloween has arrived five months early.

Paper bats hanging in Veganz, sadly the shop has since left Leipzig, but I have fond memories of sitting beneath those bats and enjoying hangover coffee and cake

It’s the city itself and how it welcomes us every year that keeps us coming back. We book our accommodation for next year’s event as soon as we get home from the present year’s. We can always rely on a smattering of bands we like appearing on the lineup announcements and even if there isn’t, just wandering around Germany surrounded by like-minded people is worth the cost of entry alone. Our first year we went alone, we spent time with a couple of people we vaguely knew from more local events, but largely we remained in only each other’s company. Each year since we’ve met more and more people to the point where we can take over a whole cocktail bar with people we know and stay up until dawn catching up with people from all over the world.

Pictured: dawn, after a night of cocktails, before a breakfast of absinthe.

I could talk for thousands of words about this one festival, but I’ll just post some pictures to try and capture what it is that makes it so thrilling and comforting all at the same time.

The line to exchange tickets for wristbands. This line is directly outside the city’s main station, we’ve realised in later years there’s a much smaller queue at other ticket swapping locations, but for early festival goth spotting this is the best place to be
After so long many of the “gothic” colour combinations have been used already for the wristbands, so it’s not unusual to have a bright accessory to your black outfit for a week
Agra. Once the festival begins this is the best place for people-spotting. We call the long walk-way between tram stop and the largest venue “the catwalk” and it’s here that we sit and plan next year’s outfits and hairstyles
Torhaus Dölitz, the “pagan village”, a small market place and stage set up all medieval themed, here you can see people debating and gesturing wildly while holding drinking horns full of mead
The three colours of plastic glasses given out with drinks, you pay a €2 deposit on all glasses and can either trade them in for your money back or keep them. In all our years of going we have only found one green glass and only then because a kind friend donated it to us when we said we were collecting

Treffen, as we call it (literally German for ‘meeting’), is the first and biggest of our summer festivals. It’s the one we do every year without fail and the one we look forward to and prepare for the most. I guess I’ve gone on long enough about it, so I’ll have to leave posting about the other events for a different time.

New home

I guess I should write about my new house.

I started looking for a house to buy in summer of last year, stepping up my search in September as I decided I wanted to be in my new place by Halloween so I could decorate it all spooky like. I did not make it in by Halloween. I thought people were overexaggerating when they spoke of the frustrations and delays with house buying, but no.

First of all my mortgage was approved for a certain amount, and I found a lovely home just slightly outside my search area and slightly over my budget. No matter, my mortgage could stretch to most of it, and my parents could loan me some more, and I could pick up extra hours at work to offset the need for a larger deposit in the near future. However then my mortgage suppliers got back in touch and said they could actually offer me £7k less than they’d initially said based on my more recent wage slips bringing my average earnings down. Balls. So no dream house for me it seems. I tried to scheme some more and asked the sellers if they’d drop the price, no luck.

So I started looking again, this time with the added pressure of not withdrawing my offer from the first house, still hoping I could think of something. Somewhat frustrated by my taking so long my mum and one of my sisters decided to travel to the city to help me look. So I went about setting up some viewings, two new houses that were in budget, and a look around the one i had my heart set on, I thought if they could just see it they’d understand why I needed it so badly and help me think of some way to attain it.

The first house we looked at was nice enough, although for the price it was a bit scruffy, there was various bits and bobs of work to be done that would push up the initial costs sonewhat. There was also no shower. I dislike baths so having to quickly find and fit a shower or risk washing in discomfort put me off somewhat.

The second house became my mum’s instant favourite, it was a five minute walk from where I was currently living, very close to a bus stop, a corner shop, a bridge onto the canal, about a ten minute walk from three large supermarkets, a 15 minute bus ride into town where I worked instead of the 30 minute ride that would’ve been from the first house I fell for. Inside the house was very nice. It had recently been redecorated, a nice pale grey wooden floor, the walls decorated in different shades of greys and whites, decent sized living room, large kitchen, bedrooms big enough for what I needed from them, and the bathroom was lovely, a big walk in shower at the end of the long room. And it was much more affordable.

I showed my family members around the house I’d already been attempting to buy and they were indeed suitably impressed. It was perfectly decorated, ready to live in, two large living rooms downstairs and two large bedrooms upstairs. My mum however remained set upon the previous house, saying that it felt much more like a first home and that the original one was “too nice for a first home”. I guess I agreed, the previous house did seem more ready for me to make it my own instead of me moving into someone else’s home.

Around this time my parents’ German shepherd gave birth to her first litter. If I was going to have a puppy like I’d hoped I had only a few weeks to get the process of buying underway.

She was known as White-Toe, pretty self explanatory.

What followed was weeks of my solicitors dragging their feet about various things, my applying for surveys and updating my mortgage advisor on my changing mind. On the 19th of December I finally was allowed to go and pick up the keys.

I had made a new friend at the end of the summer too, just around the time I had really starting to seriously go through the searches and applications required. We’d spent most of our mutual days off hanging out, so it was fairly logical that she’d been there for all of my updates and mind changing and incoming emails about whatever was going on at the time. Also logical then that I would ask her to come and collect the keys with me. It was midwinter and a grey, drizzly day in the city, we walked first 20 minutes one way to the estate agents and then 30 minutes back the other way to get to my new house (eek!), stopping along the way to collect a few items that I wanted to be my first inhabitants of my new home.

My first memory of my home is the two of us sitting in the empty back bedroom with a single candle, shivering, able to see our breaths in the cold, damp house that was now my home.

First tasks were cleaning tasks, and we arranged another mutual day off when we could come and set aside a few hours to scrub the mould away from the kitchen walls. After a lot of scrubbing and some homely additions brought by my mum as early Christmas gifts it started to look more like my own place.

Next task was my moving all of my stuff from the room I’d been renting previously to the new house. For such a tiny room it did have a lot of stuff in it, this process took weeks, mainly due to my laziness. My “lot of stuff” seemed lost in the space of my house.

Meanwhile White-Toe looked like this and my mum was asking when I’d be ready to take her home:

I moved in by mid January. White-Toe was dropped off a few days after I’d started sleeping there and renamed Shadow, she was the perfect company and distraction to suddenly being in house of my own and no longer having any human housemates for the first time in my life.

A few Ikea trips and charity shop raids later the place started to feel more and more like my home. My friend offered to watch my puppy while I worked some days in return for me babysitting her 5 year old. I’d pick up her daughter from school, take her to mine while her mother worked, take her and the puppy for a walk, feed them both and put them to bed. My friend would travel to mine after a late shift at work, stay over, and give the kids breakfast and an early walk the next day while I worked the early morning shift. It worked nicely and it made my house feel more lived in, there were more coats and shoes littering the living room, toys on the bedroom floor, jigsaw puzzles and childish drawings scattered across my living room. The best way to make a house feel lived in is to add children, even if they do bring a large degree of chaos to the situation. After being put on lockdown and having my friend and child move in full time for a few weeks my house feels more like home than ever.

I’ve been looking forward to living in my own place for years. My friends will move back to their own home after the summer, and while sad to see them go, I’m also grateful that they’ve been with me and Shadow for the first few months as this place has moved from an empty house I’d somehow acquired to an actual home that I can live a life in.

Lockdown life

There seems to be no chronological logic to what I post and when, but since my whole life right now is the way it is due to Covid 19 it seems like a good time to talk about it.

I was furloughed about mid-March and the government is paying me 80% of my average wage to stay home and not spread the virus. Lovely. Obviously with a young, energetic dog in the house I am unable to to literally stay home, but it’s a good excuse to avoid getting on buses or straying too close to the city centre. Instead Shadow and I have been exploring more and more around our town. It turns out that when you have the time to stop and check out that overgrown looking path, or step over that broken bit of fence you can find so many new beautiful places to spend time in!

She spends most of her time on walks just behind me, until I want to take a photograph and then she always seems to be in front of the lens somehow

Just before the pandemic kicked off I had been feeling stressed and overworked, I was getting up early, trying to make sure Shadow was properly exercised before I carted her off to whichever of my friends had kindly agreed to hang out with her while I was at work, rushing home to be able to fit in a nice, long walk before dinner, and trying to squeeze in some all important training sessions before bed. In the early days of having her it felt like maybe I wasn’t cut out to be a dog parent, it felt like I never had the chance to get to know her, like I spent more time stressing over who would look after her the next day than enjoying the time we were together. I guess it’s similar to how many single parents feel about their children. The last three months have definitely been a godsend in giving us that bonding time and I’ve learnt so much more about her and she’s become so much more responsive to me.

She’s actually learned that when I throw a stick it’s more fun to keep hold of it in case I might want to throw it again than just leaving it where it falls

It’s also helped that my friend has been staying with us the last few weeks as well with her 5 year old daughter. Shadow met this girl on the very first day she came to the city and they’ve been great friends ever since. Whenever I’m busy or tired or for whatever reason don’t want to play tug of war for the thousandth time, she has a playmate who’s always ready to test her pulling power against another kid. They’re about the same weight as well, so they’re a good match. She’s been meeting more dogs as well lately, some successfully, some unsuccessfully (teenage gsd rebellion phase strikes again!), so we’re working on how to say hello politely and not bound up straight into somebody’s face without ever a sniff hello first. It’s strange that it’s been during a lockdown that she’s probably been more social than ever. I guess the early days of only being allowed outside to exercise/walk your dog really payed off for all the dogs who now get to spend hours a day walking around parks with their owners.

As the Covid situation starts to wind down I’m wondering what our next adventures will be. Certainly now we can hope to start travelling more we can go to visit the Peak District, the Lake District, fells and moors slightly further afield than our town’s borders. But I’m also thinking of getting her a pet passport and looking into visiting mainland Europe for a trip. I’m trying to plan a train ride across countries with my friend who’s staying, but the logistics of rabies vaccinations and vet appointments all seem a bit uncertain right now. It’s something fun to scheme about though, much nicer than the plots and plans about when I could go to work and who would be on puppy duty while I did so that made up my pre-lockdown life.

The lockdown will end, and normal life will resume, but I feel a lot more ready for it now. I guess sometimes you need to be forced off work to really remember that there’s more to life sometimes.

Just some dog-mum waffle

I got my first compliment on Shadow the other day. MY first compliment. She’s a good looking dog (biased as I am) and usually all the comments we’ve had when we’ve been out have been “oh, she’s beautiful!”, “she’s growing up so nice!”, “she’s so big for her age!” (is that last one a compliment? I guess it is if, like me, you like big dogs), I’ve never known what to say in response to these though: “thank you”? as if I somehow created her and was responsible for her looks? “I know”? seems so arrogant somehow. But the other day someone stopped me while we were walking near home: “I’ve seen you two walking down the canal, such a well trained dog, you’ve done very well!” turns out I still didn’t know what to say, but hearing that something that I was responsible for was worthy of a compliment was such a mood boost! So life affirming somehow.

Especially as lately Shadow has been going through what I’ve come to learn is “German Shepherd Teenage Phase” where she tests me and how far she can get away with stuff. She’ll sometimes chase other dogs, run up to dogs on the lead, refuse to come when I call her, bark at children (okay, that last one was a one time thing, but it was still horrifying!). Getting that random compliment made me realise that it’s because she’s so well behaved that the new disobedience stands out so much. And she *is* good, she always lets me put her back on the lead at home time, she’ll come back when i call her to stop chasing a dog, and she only barks at very specific, annoying people (either someone on my doorstep, when they’ve stood at the threshold of our home for too long, or children who are crowding around her, pulling her ears and wanting to spray her with water pistols).

Sometimes I look at her and I can’t believe she’s mine. For as long as i can remember I wanted to have my own German shepherd, and now i have one, she’s nearly fully grown, she’s very good looking, she’s pretty well behaved, and she loves me, I’m her person.

Let’s try and start this again…

I’m Draco,  I’m in my early 30s, have no idea what I’m doing with my life, and frequently need the attention and validation from others.

I’ve wanted for ages to start up a blog again. Never really knew what to write and always put it off. I’ve also never been interested in that polished online life either, the ones where you can’t share the real things you go through because they aren’t positive, aesthetic, or even understandable.

So I have a dog, Shadow, she’s currently 7 and a half months.

I also have a house. I bought it in December last year, and it’s just barely starting to feel like mine.

I’ve had a crazy last 12 months, done amazing things, met wonderful people and experienced more emotions, good and bad, than I think I’ve experienced for my whole life previously (outside of those pesky melodramatic teenage years, ofc).

I guess I’ll write about Shadow, and keep track of my progress as I make my house into my home. And maybe let my feelings and emotions seep into my writing and be immortalised forever. Scary.

A Beginning

I decided to start a blog to give me a reason to do things in life. Some people use Instagram as a reason to go out and photograph things, and I think I’ve been doing that as well. I’ve also been talking far too much about my emotional turmoil on Instagram though, so figured for a narcissist like me a diary or journal would be more the place for it. Hopefully this blog won’t descend into misery though, I’ve got plans to go places and do things and since I love writing in general I’m hopeful that this will give me reasons to drag myself out into the world and document what I find.

My year started off weirdly, my cat died, I made a new best friend for a short while, work became very stressful for everyone, and I got more invested emotionally than I ever wanted to be in trying to keep people happy. I think it’s all made me realise that I should do some more stuff to make myself happy. I don’t intend to die any time soon, but even if live to be 100 I know there’ll be plenty of things I regret not doing, so I guess I better start.