Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sometimes You Get Bit By A Dog In The Face

I wasn't sure if I should write about this.

When I first sat down to write it seemed self-important and meaningless—but I think now it seems like a good example of how I deal with crisis and how it's okay to be at multiple points on a spectrum of emotions in a given week.

I'll start by saying I am good in a crisis.

I'm not one of those people who falls to pieces when something goes wrong—the only way I know how to deal with chaos is to plow through it uninterrupted.

Friday night I was invited to a party.

I had spoken on a panel earlier in the day and couldn't wait to see everyone again—but with the added bonus of alcohol and more comfortable clothes.

This is what I looked like at 3:00 p.m. talking about memes and social media seated by the lovely Ericka Andersen.

With about 15 minutes to spare before running out the door, I walked out of my room to put on makeup and think seriously about what dress I wanted to wear.

Truman—Caroline's dog—was visiting for the weekend. She had left his leash on by accident before leaving for dinner so I bent over to take it off. I patted his head and said "hello sweet puppy" just as he lunged up snarling and bit my face.

Bear in mind what I said about crisis earlier.

I did not handle this with a lick of grace. I am to this moment shocked and honestly scared that my neighbors didn't call the police to report a woman screaming next door. I'm sure I sounded as though I'd been stabbed.

I kept screaming "why did you do that?" at Truman as I ran back and forth from the bathroom to my bedroom not really sure what I was doing. I called Caroline hysterical. Blood was everywhere. I kept looking in the mirror horrified at what I was seeing.

Caroline ran home and was the perfect mix of compassionate and proactive. She behaved exactly as I imagine I would have for someone else had I been someone else. But I wasn't someone else—I was me and I had a mauled face and I couldn't stop weeping.

What came next I'm very glad happened.

My friend Jake arrived.

Jake's leg got blown off a few years ago.

How in the hell was I supposed to cry about a flesh wound when his leg got blown off? I mean, seriously.

It made me suck it up, put on a dress... and yes, I went to the party. With a bleeding, horrible face.

Stupid? Maybe. But I had a great time.

This is what my face looked like the next day.

On Saturday I was all self-deprecating humor and grace. Smiling when people asked what happened and saying "isn't that crazy?" and "I don't think it will scar too badly."

When I walked out my front door a little boy was struggling on his bicycle with his parents. "Why do you have that on your nose?" he asked. I laughed, "it's making my face better!"

I walked around Eastern Market for my usual produce buying and latte drinking... and then I started noticing the stares. Everyone in my coffee shop stared. In fact... everyone everywhere stared. The looks on their faces were unpleasant, shocked, maybe pitying. I brushed them all off and kept moving. I went back to the coffee shop again for another latte and the barista I have a crush on (he looks like Ben from Felicity, people) looked horrified by my face.

Let me break this down for you, reader: Women don't want men they're even remotely interested in to react to their faces with horror.

Finally I cracked. The stares from strangers had worn me down and this was the final straw. I burst into tears.

I'd never cried in public before.

Walking home it occurred to me that everyone in the place probably thought I was a battered wife. Crying with a black eye and huge gashes.

That night I had nightmares about dogs attacking me. I woke up three times thinking about being bitten again. All day Sunday if I heard a dog bark I would tense up. And I love dogs.

I played with Tut (Sarah's German Shepherd) because he would never hurt a fly and I wanted to make sure I wasn't traumatized.

Monday at work I was fine again—my black eye was darker but the swelling was gone and I felt prettier somehow. The gash on my cheek wasn't healing well but otherwise it was fine. Everyone had convinced me I would have no scars if I took care of it properly.

Then one of my coworkers informed me that no, it was not okay, I would have scars, Maderma doesn't work, and I probably needed to talk to a plastic surgeon.

I smiled through her advice and took it to heart—maybe I would need a plastic surgeon.

I cried all the way to the gym. I cried after class.

On the metro a little boy turned to his mother (what is it with little boys being totally honest about the world around them?) and told her, "mommy that lady has a broken face."

So I cried all the way home.

I tweeted: I did graceful and I did self deprecating humor. Now I'm doing break down crying because a child said "mommy that lady has a broken face."

I felt like I was being pathetic by tweeting that—but I needed to get it out. I needed to stop pretending that I was fine and that I wasn't bothered by it. It's my face.

And the next morning I woke up and remembered that I have an incredibly blessed life, my face is not going to be deformed, and I have 309820598345 pretty dresses.

Sometimes it's okay to fall apart a little. I don't always have to weather everything with a smile and pretend that nothing is wrong. I don't have to measure whether or not my pain is worthy of being talked about just because other people have it much, much worse than I do. It's okay to cry on the metro (okay, maybe let's not go that far) and then put on a smile and go about your business.

Because life is short. And sometimes you get bit by a dog in the face.