Monday, October 11, 2010

The Measure Of My Dreams

What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a vet. I don't remember ever wanting to be anything else. Poor Bright Eyes got the brunt of it. She's the sausage dog pictured in my blog header, the sad-eyed and balding doggle that Santa Claus brought to me one Christmas, to my abject disappointment. She wasn't sad-eyed and balding then, of course (much as I occasionally like to make out that I had an impoverished childhood, I really didn't. We had a black and white telly, is all). She had a glossy coat and neither of her eyes drooped. But I wanted one of those little animatronic ones that barked and did backflips, and she just sat there. My mother told me years later that they'd given me the one I wanted for Christmas as a toddler and I'd freaked out, screamed the house down and wet my drawers. I don't remember that. It's convenient not to.

Anyway, Bright Eyes became my first patient. I don't know where I got the idea from, or the surgical implements, but I slit her belly open, pulled out what seemed the appropriate amount of stuffing and then stitched her back together again, pronouncing her "spayed". To my parents' credit, they didn't send me to a psychiatrist. Instead, they indulged me with some James Herriot books and a visit to the school of veterinary medicine in UCD. They're still a source of such trusting encouragement that I owe them a debt of gratitude for what I've become. Though I am not, unfortunately, a vet. Nor did my sister grow up to become a truck driver, nor my brother to become Michael Jackson. That we were equally supported in our dreams says a lot for my parents too.

I decided against a career as a veterinarian when one of the boys in school pointed out to me that vets kill animals. "Not on purpose!" I said (and now I think of that Simpsons episode with the hamster and the basketball net). But he explained to me that sometimes it was on purpose, and that that was what it meant when something had to be "put down". I never fully forgave him for breaking that truth and with it, my dream.

I think of this again today after leaving work at one. I am worn out and uninterested after last week's overtime. In my desk I still have the card my father gave to me on my first day there. He's a bit of a hippie, my da. I take it out sometimes, read it and try to take it to heart. I'd like to be more like he is. Sometimes it works. And sometimes it doesn't, so I take the rest of the day off and pour my heart into a bowl of pasta instead.

12 comments:

Tessa said...

Your Da sounds like a pet, Rosie. But I don't think even Mother Teresa could keep so positive an attitude about work - which, as you know, is only the curse of the drinking classes.

My stepdaughter wanted to be a vet, too, because she thought it would be all kittens and puppies. When I told her that some vets spend their days up to their oxters in cows' arses, she lost interest for some strange reason. Which makes me a very wicked stepmother, I guess. But she seems quite happy now, in her career as a social worker counselling drug addicts. Personally, I think the cows' arses are a better option, but I've managed to keep that to myself.

Anonymous said...

Great writing. It is isn't the words, it's what you say. And so well. Catching something.

Rosie said...

cow's arses all the way, Tessa. i wouldn't have the stomach to be a social worker.

thanks, Anonymous. i had to ask for help to spell "animatronic" and "veterinarian" though.

emordino said...

Animatronic veterinarian.

I had one of those backflipping dogs. You didn't miss out. Well, except for when the batteries were going, and it sat there making weird Lovecraftian moans for a bit before gently tipping over backwards.

Gimme said...

You and Mulley and your dream measuring. I suppose Russians love their children too.

Rosie said...

Lovecraft would have loved the idea of animatronic veterinarians.

very funny, Gimme. once Andrew explained the joke to me. twice. you kids and your pop culchure references.

Silas Meek said...

I initially read this on my rss reader and so couldn't see the photo of Bright Eyes. I thought she was real dog for much of the post...

imagine said...

I know those cards, are they Louise Hay? My parents are hippies too, or at least they like to think so.

Me too, real dog!

Rosie said...

Silas! Imagine! what must you have thought of me? apologies for the confusion. i assume that everyone reading is familiar enough with my back catalogue for me to prattle on about my childhood toys with little or no introduction.

i've no idea who makes the cards, Imagine. he keeps them for special occasions.

Au Lapin Blanc said...

It was marine biology for me but then someone told me that I might occasionally have to go into open water and I crapped myself.

Glad to see that Bright Eyes made a full recovery though

Silas Meek said...

My dream was to be a train driver. "Aim low," my granddad used to say, "it'll hurt less when you inevitably fall."
I never did become a train driver, and it hurt a lot.

Rosie said...

i had a boyfriend who wanted to do that, Rabbit. he ended up becoming a guard. i'm sure there's a joke in there somewhere.

i could see you in a little peaked cap, Silas.