Desperately Seeking Understanding, Maybe Even Fame


So Louie, the other dog has taken to jumping in through the open window of my car in the cool shade of the carport and sitting there like a cool cat, (even though he’s a dog) waiting for me to discover him, which I typically do after a very short period of time, since I am so crazy about this crazy dog I miss him after about five minutes and thirty seconds.

Louie the Dog

A Louie in Waiting

He apparently is expecting to go somewhere. If it’s not an opportune time to take him and Libby for a spin, I have to rattle the doggie bone box and trick him into jumping out of the car and coming inside, or running to the back yard or the front, to harass some unsuspecting dog in the yard behind us, or pedestrian on the sidewalk in front of us, and then, quick like a bunny, power up the windows to prevent him from jumping in again. We’re talking leaping INTO the car, dude.

So, I snapped the pic, sent it to my friends and family. My friend Vince promptly responded, “Louie, the Sequel Dog” and my most astute daughter-in-law, the cartoon animator in Los Angeles comes back with this insightful quip,”Well, did he see the trailer?”

Sweet Melissa is referring to my book trailer, which has been the subject of hair pulling torment for the past few weeks. Oh Lord, that we could only reduce to a few short clips and sound track that which has, in fact, taken 266 Microsoft pages to say. Anyway, here’s the trailer, what do you think?

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Trailer notwithstanding, we have had, of late, some issues with the ol’ boy Louie. We took him to the groomer and he freaked out, got so worked up on the table, they had to call us to come and get him, mid-groom. He wasn’t at all like this the first time we took him. He was fine!  So the groomer tells us we might need to sedate him the next time we bring him in.  We call the vet and they won’t prescribe anything until we bring him in and when we do, he freaks out at the veterinarian’s office to the point that the vet won’t even give him his rabies shot until we sedate him and the whole thing is just a big old mess, which has his master, Sean, and I feeling terrible and wringing our hands a bit and loving our rascally mutt like never before. How can you not love this?


What’s not to love? Except the mud on my bedspread.

Which leads me to this dog whisperer here in St. Louis who is telling me how Chows get such a bum rap because they’re misunderstood. It’s a terrible thing to feel like you’re misunderstood, which leads me to an entry in my mother’s journal, which she wrote just a few short days before she suffered a severe stroke, which eventually ended her life. The last thing she ever wrote down was on my birthday, April 24, 2006. She’d been talking about how she wanted to make things easier on us, her adult children.

“You have a way of dismissing my ideas and I feel uneasy at times, because I haven’t been able to explain why I did what I did…”

My mother felt misunderstood. The sadness of that does not leave me. How I wish I could say, “really, Mom, I did, I understood more than you know.” And if I didn’t then, certainly I do now.

When you think about it, isn’t that what we all really want, to simply be understood? When I came across the musicians on Interstate 10, in the blazing heat outside Needles, California and I just happened to amble up and record them singing, “sail on, sail on, there’s something further than this compass can explore…” a song which burst my soul and told me that yes, indeed, I was exactly on the pinpoint dot on the map where I was supposed to be, weren’t they simply trying to be understood?

Isn’t this why painters paint, singers sing, writers write, dancers dance, so as to be understood? So as to pry open the suffocating Glad Bag zip-lock seal around their heart long enough to air the beauty and purity of its contents?

In the last chapter of my book, “Off the Leash,” I talk about the risk involved in baring one’s heart: the men I’ve loved and lost. I write about how the endless sky, the open road and the lingering scent of young man I’d embraced on a sparsely traveled stretch of U.S. 50 brought the memory of them swirling round my head as potent as the cross wind on the highway.

The mere scent of a man dragged my artful dodging brain to places I dared not revisit, memories I would just as soon have extracted like an abscessed tooth. The trailing goosebumps that, even after years, surface involuntarily after the fact, accompany the memories of the men I’ve loved with such a pure heart — a sunny window seat, his fingers sliding over frets, a gait, a look, his posture, the silver chain that hides just under his collar, his laugh, his touch, those shining blue eyes. I’ve loved the blue eyed boys the most. Where are they now? What happened?  I tried so hard not to think about it.

Aren’t we all, merely seeking understanding? We’re signals in search of a repeater.  In the event we’re not sure of the reception, we hedge our bets with the written word. These were my mother’s final ones.

“Forgive me for the disappointments and bless me for the good things, I hope they balance out.”

Not to worry, Mom.

Bless the Good Things

We bless you for the good things.

About Jean Ellen Whatley

Writer. Dreamer. Sometimes schemer. Journalist/memoirist/observer and sometimes constructive irritant. Prisoner of demon muses. Mother to four humans and two dogs. In my spare time, I delete phone numbers of former boyfriends.

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  1. Wow! The book is really coming along – I guess it can be ordered now? I’m excited, but regretful because I am in horribly dire financial straits but hopefully things will be better in a month or two and then I will DEFINITELY be ordering a copy! I really enjoyed the trailer – you have such a nice voice!

    As for what you wrote about Louie freaking out at the vet, and the vet refusing to do anything, I think you might want to see a new vet! I’ve had friends whose animals had anxiety problems and they were given something to calm them down without any kind of issue. Even here in France, our cat Ali was possibly having anxiety (turned out it wasn’t that, but crystals in his bladder – yikes!) and the vet prescribed Valium even before she examined him! Bona fide people-grade Valium! We were told to cut the pill in half. We gave him the right dosage and he slumped over and slunk off somehow to climb onto the top of the toilet, where he meowed into the void for a while. No more Valium after that. But the point is, the vet gave us VALIUM and your vet will do nothing for your dog? Really, a new vet might be in order.

    Best of luck to you with everything! I’m so excited about the book!

    • Alysa,
      I will send you one, darling. Will be a few more weeks before the print edition is available, digital version, I hope by mid-July. And yes, we took him to a different vet. First one was an idiot. Sorry for the dire straights, oh, honey, how I do understand. After I quit the job to finish the book in May, I immediately started having huge dental problems, talk about a toothache. Each day I keep telling myself, “this too shall pass.” Hang in.