C and D

Oops.  So I didn’t post yesterday as I was supposed to given that I am doing an A-Z daily challenge.  Luckily, I have a legitimate excuse.  I was on the phone and in person with the maintenance person on-call about my air conditioning (C is for Conditioning!) because it has been broken for several weeks now and today was in the 80s.  I almost had to make arrangements for somebody to care for Candy during the work day so she wouldn’t die of heat related illness in the apartment.  But, after several phone calls, a new thermostat, and a final emergency visit, my air conditioning is working again.  Phew!  C is for very well cooled off, and much more calm.

 

And for today, D is for Drowning.  It’s been a substantial number of days since the monstrous storms swept through the Chicagoland area and flooded the suburbs and surrounding land.  We’re starting to dry out a bit but the ground is still very soft even if it is dry.  It is saturated with moisture.  People are still battling water in their basements, crawl spaces, and should-be-dry areas.  And guess what?  More rain is in the forecast.  For some reason Mother Nature is weeping on the Midwest.  If only she would spread her tears a little more evenly.

This morning while taking Candy for her potty break, the heels of my shoes kept sinking into the ground.  It hasn’t rained in at least a couple of days.  The grass has grown so fast and so lush, green, and long that when she sticks her flat little nose down to sniff out a pee spot, her entire face is buried within the blades.  If it were Bill and Bailey with their long, poky schnozzles, they would only be about halfway down.  Candy is just that pathetic with her fluffy face.

Rain was in the forecast for today but it stayed dry.  We’ll see what tomorrow brings.  I’ll have to dress accordingly, whatever that means.  I need to purchase rain boots.  D is for rain boots.

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B is for Baby

Today I finally met my friend’s new baby.  He is a month old and tiny.  I don’t have much experience with babies and so the fact that I sat there with him in my arms for nearly two hours is a pretty big milestone.  It helped that he slept the whole time until we woke him up and he realized he was hungry and that was the end of happy baby.

Whenever I see a small being–human, dog, cat, etc.–I always become awestruck with how something can be so small.  It happens all the time when I look at our dog, Bailey.  How does it all fit in there?  The little heart, lungs, liver, stomach.  Yes, I get weird like that.  But as a full-grown human, the idea that nature makes everything in such small sizes seems so amazing to me, incredible and beautiful.  Yet at the same time it always baffles me.  So small.  And so looking at this little baby, I said, “Look at those tiny nails.” and “Tiny toenails.”  And looking at the little creases in his fingers designating where his knuckles are.  So tiny.

Soon he will be much bigger and the tiny won’t be so mind-boggling.  That is when his antics will take all my brains to try to understand.

 

And today, B is also for (Good)bye.  For those of you who read my post yesterday, you know about Patches.  Well, Patches went to the emergency vet yesterday and passed away this morning.  She had underlying health issues that nobody knew about but was playing until her last hours.  She will be miss by many but we were lucky to have known her.

A is for Age

Today I am beginning an A-Z challenge (which I really should have started several days ago). My dear friend and inspiration, Pam, was doing an A-Z challenge but had to put it off due to unforeseen circumstances.  So, for the next 26 days I will try my hardest to discipline myself and entertain you with topics ranging the alphabet and my not-so-humble opinions.

 

A is for Age.

Age is topic that has come up a lot lately.  At work we have been guessing each others’ ages and either been satisfied or shocked.  I have both shocked and satisfied people.  That doesn’t surprise me.  I tend to adjust to my surroundings, as many people do, and act accordingly.  That does not mean I change my personality or who I am, it just means that different groups may see me differently.  I don’t think that is very uncommon.  But, that has led one person to think I was about 6 years older than my true age and another person to think I was about 2 years younger than my true age.  While this might bother some people, it doesn’t bother me at all.  I’ve been called an old soul, mature for my age, and I’ve always looked a little older than I am until recently when I think my age has caught up to my appearance.  And I’ve always felt old.  I blame that on experiences, health, and overall personality.  After all, my mom always said she married a 27-year-old going on 40 and I am known to have my dad’s personality.  It’s always nice to be able to blame your parents.

In today’s society it is so hard to pinpoint somebody’s age.  With so many age defying products and treatments, what is 50 supposed to look like?  I never understood the need to be younger than you are.  What is wrong with aging the way nature intended?  I think a healthy dose of wrinkles can be beautiful.  The only reason we learned to despise signs of aging is because society tells us we should.  Nature doesn’t.  I don’t think I’ll ever understand.  We say somebody who is 50 but looks 40 looks “good,” but why is that good?  Shouldn’t we say that person looks deceptive?

And, of course, we can’t forget my favorite topic of pets.  Age is not exclusive to humans.  In fact, we could say that pets are more susceptible to age than humans are.  My family has always rescued our dogs, never gotten from breeders, so there has always been the chance that we wouldn’t know their exact ages.  The Golden Retriever we adopted when I was in kindergarten was supposedly 3 years old at the time, but when she pass away the veterinarian told us she was probably more like 13 years old (which means she would have been 5 at the time of adoption).  Lying about an animal’s age in order to get him/her adopted is not uncommon.  People want to adopt younger animals to have more time with them, not worry about health issues, and simply get more out of them.  It’s a sad story and has caused shelters and rescues all over to skimp on animals’ ages by a few years for the sake of the animals.  Cutting off a few years here and there is OK in my book because it gets that dog or cat a home and in the long run doesn’t make too much of a difference.  But then you have my friends’ story…

My two friends are roommates and decided one would adopt a cat.  This was several years ago now and they both fell in love with Patches.  I love Patches, too.  She is cuddly and friendly and gorgeous.  The rescue told my friends’ she was about 2 or 3 years old.  The veterinarian told my friends that Patches was probably older, but never told my friends an estimate.  She has had several health issues over the years and when my friends adopted a second cat as her “buddy,” she immediately had physical problems due to the stress of the added cat (who was far too active and playful for her).  Well, as it turns out, she probably saw this new cat as an annoying little brat.  Recently Patches was at the emergency vet who said that Patches is probably about 10 years old.

Lying about the cat’s age to get her adopted is one thing.  Shaving a good 5-6 years off of her age is wrong.  A prospective pet owner goes into the adoption process with certain expectations including activity level, medical costs, and life expectancy (years to have with the pet).  Patches being so much older than expected has thrown everything off-balance.  Everyone involved is lucky that so many people love Patches so much.  She is a great cat.

So, while I tend to say that age is just a number, is it really?  It is a number, but what does that number mean?

And So the Tail Begins

It’s been almost a month now since I moved out of my parents’ place.  Didn’t I tell you?  I moved out of my parents’ place.  I have a nice little one bedroom apartment on the third floor.  It’s a great diet, actually.  I’m slowly but surely losing weight by not munching all the time, eating only portions that I cook for myself, and using the stairs all the time.  And I control what food comes into my apartment.

I’m still working on decorating and deciding what to hang where.  I’ll never be used to the cleaning.  I clean on the weekend and then it’s the weekend again.  And I don’t have a garbage disposal.  Yuck.

So far it’s been nice.  I enjoy being on my own and feeling my age.

But, it can be lonely at times.  I come home every night to an empty apartment and get ready for the next day.  I knew I wanted to adopt and made sure I moved into a dog friendly building.  The leasing office even knows that I plan to adopt.  As soon as I moved in, I was looking at shelter and rescue websites.

The funny thing is, I was so sure I’d adopt right away.  How could I live in a pet friendly place and not rescue a dog?  But each time I would go back to my parents’ house for anything, I’d be greeted by those great big, buggy dachshund eyes and rut-roos.  How could I cheat on Bill and Bailey?

This weekend my parents went to a shelter to donate a bunch of stuff Bill and Bailey didn’t need anymore.  I was miffed that they went without me knowing that I was looking to adopt.  On their way home they gave me a call and my dad said he found the perfect dog for me.  She wasn’t on the website and from his description I figured I’d go check her out.  Well, I went to see her the next day and my dad came along for moral support (and I think he was that excited).  When I saw her in the cage I couldn’t believe my dad thought that was the dog for me.  She was nothing like he described.  This was a little floofy Shih Tzu!  My family has never had a “foofoo” dog.  We’ve had big dogs and dog dogs, real dogs.  Not Shih Tzus.  But I filled out an application and sat in a room with her anyhow.  What did I have to lose?  All the other dogs I was interested had issues I couldn’t worry myself with like seizures, daily medication, not good around children, etc.

As soon as she got in the room with me she leapt into my lap and was rubbing all over me, jumping in my face with kisses.

And so here I am.  I am waiting for the shelter to have her spayed so I can take her home!

I still can’t believe I adopted a floofy!

For Shame

Thanks to  swift kick in the rear by my fellow blogging pal, I am here!  OK, so it was more like a gentle nudge, but the former sounds better.
Lately I’ve been hooked on another website.  I have my daily sites–CuteOverload.com for Awwws and the LOLsites for a good…LOL…I need my daily doses of happy stuff.

Then I stumbled upon Dog Shaming.  Yes, http://www.dogshaming.com is an entire website devoted to shaming your beloved canine pals.  Each time I take a look at the new shames I struggle to keep my laughter silent.  More often than not I laugh out loud and have to describe the shames to my mom who, at that point, probably regrets sitting on the couch at the same time as me.

I’m not alone.  There are slews of other shame-addicts who find these pictures of dogs with signs designating their misdeeds to be highly entertaining.

What exactly does this say about us and our supposed love of our pets?

My mom doesn’t see the humor.  I admit many of the shames are a bit gross, but since when has humor been completely void of grossness?  The rest just prove that it really could be worse or is just like home.

One friend has been trying to get me to shame Bill and Bailey.  I haven’t had the guts.  How can I shame my own little monsters?  It’s not that there is nothing to choose from, in fact I have a long list if I wanted to post them to the world:

*Doing their business all over the house

*Knocking over the kitchen garbage and devouring it

*Chasing joggers and other innocent pedestrians

*Barking incessantly at nothing

*Endurance begging

*Rolling in dead and/or smelly stuff outside

*Stealing each others’ bones and treats

*Creating blockades at the front doors so nobody can leave

I’ll stop there.  In any case, I know my parents don’t want their little monsters shamed and as much fun as it would be, I’d feel terribly guilty.
One thing I have learned by being a shaming addict is that my dogs are not necessarily bad dogs, they’re really just dachshunds.  While I haven’t done an official count to give you statistics, I’m pretty sure the majority of shamed dogs are wily little wieners.  Should that make my family feel better or worse?

I guess it doesn’t matter because the big, buggy, brown doxie eyes always melt us to putty anyhow.

An Educated Choice

I took an online survey recently which aligned me with Jill Stein, the Green Party’s candidate for president.  I’ve been so consumed with the Obama vs. Romney race that I didn’t even know of any other candidates.  I have to say, as somebody who typically prides herself on being an educated voter and takes  advantage of her voting privilege, I definitely put myself to shame.

This particular poll was far more in-depth than any pre-election quiz/survey mumbo-jumbo that I’ve ever been suckered into before.  And you know what?  It was pretty gosh darned accurate!  The only problem is that, like most Americans, I would never vote for a Green Party candidate.  I am not afraid of a third-party  winning.  That may be good for our narrow little society.  I just know the reality that a third-party would never win.  Too many Americans live in the black-and-white or as single-issue voters (which is absolutely terrifying).

So this year, just as in every election past in which I have been eligible to vote, I will pick the lesser of two evils.  We do not live in an ideal world and probably never will, so voting ideal may never be an option.  If only all Americans could bring themselves to see political races as picking the lesser of two evils rather than picking right from wrong…

Remember to register to vote and of course to vote vote vote!  Whichever way you sway, make sure your choice is an educated one.

I Love You, Dad.

During my daily wanderings through Pinterest (yes, I am a junkie), I came across a link to 50 Rules for Dads of Daughters.  I knew this would be sappy and mushy-gushy and frankly, I’m not sure why I clicked on it.  I’m not a daddy’s girl.  I absolutely love my dad and I don’t know what I’d do without him, but I’ve never been the girl attached to her daddy’s leg.  I hid behind my mom lest somebody else should ask me if my thumb tasted good (my uncle always asked for a taste).

Most of these “Rules” I can say did not apply to my dad and I.   I can shrug and say I don’t see why it really needs to be a rule.  A few of them we got, like #1 Love her mom…well, duh?  Unless it is an unfortunate situation of divorce or being a widow.  I was lucky.  I still am lucky.

He did buy me a glove and I played softball for a couple of years, always watched my brother play baseball, and still watch the Cubs like a good fan does.

I never had to ask for a puppy.  We always had a dog.

Not only did he dance with me, I took him to the Girl Scout sock hop where he danced with me.

I could go on but that would bore even me.  A lot of that list my dad and I didn’t get to do because he traveled for his job, but he called home every night to talk to my brother and I.
So I got to thinking about those things that I had with my dad that were not mentioned.  One of the biggest rules of fatherhood as I knew it growing up was left out of that list (not counting reading her a bedtime story and playing spaghetti with her hair after bath time because you don’t know how to comb it properly).

Take her for rides.  My dad always took my brother and I for rides.  If Dad said “Do you want to go for a ride?” or “Let’s go for a ride,” we knew exactly what he meant.  We’d pile into his car and head for a nearby 7-11 or White Hen Pantry, sometimes another convenience store or gas station.  On special days my brother and I would get “Slurpees” or fruity slushy drinks full of sugary goodness.  On normal days we’d share my dad’s giant Diet Coke, the Big Gulp or whatever the biggest fountain size was.  That was his normal sized drink but on rides he shared with us.  It was Dad, my brother, me, the pop and the road.

My dad has recently gotten in the habit of taking our dogs to with him to check his lottery tickets in the morning.  They stay in the car for the couple of minutes it takes him in the gas station to see if he won anything and then they come home.  The dogs love it and he loves showing them off.  He’ll go through the McDonald’s drive-thru on the way home to get a Diet Coke and a cup of water.  The last he said, the person working the window stopped giving him a straw for the water because he realized it was for the dogs.  Once a dad, always a dad.

Be Diligent.

I’ve been delinquent with my blogging yet again.  It’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride around here.  Something good will happen and then something will drag everything down again.  I’m trying to keep optimistic, but sometimes it’s very hard.

 

Today I have one message and it’s something I’ve preached before and I’ll preach again and again.  I’m not even sure I should be posting this yet, but how soon is too soon to remind women to keep their health at the forefront of their minds?

Today is the second time in my life that somebody I know was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Both of these women did not go for regular mammograms.  The first person found out about her cancer in Stage 3 and was lucky enough to beat the monster.  The second person doesn’t know enough about her diagnoses right now.

 

And so I beg of you, my dear friends, when it comes that time in your life, be diligent about getting those mammograms.  Do breast checks in the shower.  If you see anything suspicious, go to your doctor.  The worst that can happen is that you catch the cancer and fight it.  Maybe it will be nothing.

 

I once found something and didn’t know what it was so I went to my doctor even though it didn’t look anything like the pictures of cancer I had seen.  It was a cyst, not harmful at all, but she gave me so much praise for being on top of things and taking action.  There are some things you can’t be too careful about.

 

And that is all I have to say for now.

Con Artist

Now that I am once again unemployed and not having an easy time of searching for a new job, my parents suggested that I get a certificate in something or another to be more employable.  Of course my first reaction is I have two degrees already!  Are you playing with me?!  But then I got down to thinking about it and everything seemed to fall into place.

Until my sophomore year of high school, I didn’t really think of doing anything professionally other than being a veterinarian.  Things happened, thoughts occurred, and I went for English instead.  I don’t regret my education choices at all.  I love literature and writing and will always keep that an active part of my life, but right now is not a good time for that market.  I don’t have a job, right?

You can get a veterinary assistant certificate in less than a year.  Veterinary careers are always a good option because they can never be outsourced and people always spend on their pets no matter the economy (I can’t remember the statistics but I see them on the news and in magazines all the time).  I thought if I found a program, I’d look into it but I didn’t pursue anything with much vigor.

Then I saw one of those commercials for a college that had a vet assistant program.  I’m always skeptical of colleges that advertise like that, but I figured I’d look at the website and fill out their form for more information.  The next day I got a call from an admissions counselor who set up an appointment with me to see the campus and find out more information.  At least that’s what I thought I was doing.

The meeting started out with a sort of interview.  I asked some questions but he was mostly interviewing me.  That was odd, but I went with it.  I got a lot of information about the program and the school and tried not to show much surprise when I saw the $11,000 price tag on the 8 month program.  I didn’t know how much these programs usually cost  and I hadn’t heard of a program going that long, but how much did I actually know?  I kept a positive attitude and went for a tour of the campus which was pretty impressive.  The next thing I knew, my tour ended at the testing center where I was taking the entrance exam.  The way the counselor said it, I would have to take the exam before applying anyhow.  I thought that was odd since you would think somebody would have to be accepted first, but I thought I’d get it over with, it only took 12 minutes anyhow.  It wasn’t holding me to anything.

I passed with flying colors.  Then I went back to the counselor’s office and he took me right through the application.  Huh?  I came to ask some questions!  Well, I thought, I don’t have to go through with it or accept an offer.  But as it turns out, applying is pretty much enrolling at this school.  After paperwork and a call to their financial aid department not knowing if I was excited or feeling stupid, I went to meet up with a friend for coffee.

By the time I got home my parents had talked over the matter (I had briefly told them what happened over the phone) and just based on cost they said no.  I agreed.  I felt conned.  I only went to ask questions.  What just happened?  I’m not that stupid!  So I immediately called the admissions counselor and left a message telling him I wasn’t going through with the program.

Several times my dad had told me that the community college had a veterinary assistant program but I could never find information on it and so I assumed it really didn’t exist.  I sat down and searched up and down the website.  As it turns out, the program is listed under “continuing education” in a corner you wouldn’t expect to find it.  And it’s half the time and a fraction of the cost of the other program.  I called the community college and left a message asking for information about the program.

This morning I got a call from the admissions counselor at the crazy college.  He was in disbelief and claimed he had been making sure I was really wanting to go through with it (by not giving me time to think?).  Anyhow, he asked all sorts of questions about the community college program.  Is it accredited?  How long will it take?  Won’t it take longer?  Have you done your research?  He’d never heard of the program, never heard of a program that short, and didn’t believe it could happen.  Well, I couldn’t believe a program could be 8 months long and cost $11,000.  We’re even.

My dad, being business savvy and ultra conscious about money and signatures had me write a letter and send it priority mail with confirmation so we know the counselor gets it.  It confirms that I’m opting out of the program and everything from yesterday should be disregarded.  Snaps to Dad.

I haven’t even enrolled in the community college program yet and my parents are making jokes that my job will be to express our dogs’ anal glands.  Lovely.  I’m excited, though.  Have I mentioned that I love animals?

Malignant is so Malevolent

Malevolent was vocabulary word back in high school.  For some reason the fact that it starts in “male” was very much a focal point for me.  And then volent is violent minus the i.  Violent Males are Malevolent.
But so is cancer.  And cancer is malignant which is very close to malevolent when you look at it and sound it out.  I’m sure if I looked up the etymology it would all make sense, but that would be giving in to all of those silly professors and English teachers from over the years.

I do have a point, as usual.  David Rakoff died recently.  In news time, I am horribly late in blogging about him, but in real-time with people mourning deaths, being born, celebrating life, and being human, I’m just on track.  David Rakoff was a frequent contributor to This American Life on NPR which I listen to weekly as a podcast either while driving or power walking on the treadmill.  This past week was a compilation of pieces David had done over the years.  It was bittersweet.  I enjoyed it.  And then I remembered Jeff.

I met Jeff, or Jeffrey depending on who was talking to him, while a student in college.  We were both active in the Hillel.  I always found him to be a bit quirky and odd but many people think the same of me so what did that matter?  He was also from the Chicago burbs and Jewish, enough at that small school to get us talking.  And he was very friendly.  I found out much later on that Jeff knew everybody and everybody knew Jeff…and liked Jeff.  Jeff was everybody’s friend.  He had a certain big brother quality to him.

I forget what year it was, but Jeff had a relapse of cancer.  Hodgkin’s Disease, if I remember correctly.  It was a slap in the face for me because I never knew he had cancer before.  He beat cancer in high school and was then studying to become a pharmacist.  But the cancer was back.  Over the next several semesters Jeff would be back and forth between Indianapolis and Chicago, getting treatments and coming back to school.  It didn’t matter how long it took him, he wasn’t going to quit school.

Eventually Jeff met Carah, one of my best friends at the time and my “little sister” in our sorority.  They fell in love.  I definitely did not react properly.  Jeff being brotherly and Carah being sisterly, it was just too weird for me.  Brothers and sisters don’t date.  Eww.  I eventually saw how much they cared for each other and it became adorable.  I still feel guilty about the awkwardness I initially felt.  They were so happy, I worried about Carah because it couldn’t be easy dating somebody so sick.

Apparently I didn’t know even a little bit of what was going on in Jeff’s life.  You could see him lose weight, hair, and color in his face, but that was normal with chemotherapy, right?  The Hillel held a bone marrow donor drive on the “mall” on campus collecting cheek swab samples from potential donors for those who needed one.  Because of Jeff, we had a surprisingly large turnout.  Like I said, Jeff knew everybody and everybody loved Jeff.  He inspired people to come out, whether the swabs would benefit him directly or not.  I was immediately crossed off the donor list because I was too much of a risk for a complicated surgery like that.  I wanted to see if I was match so badly, but to fund the surgeries privately would have been too much and still too risky for me.

Eventually Jeff’s time at school dwindled even further.  I saw less and less of him and then I graduated.  He was very behind in his studies and was settling on a pharmaceutical studies degree instead of PharmD.  He should have been a pharmacist by the time I graduated if he was on track.

Then, via Facebook, I found out that he died.

I exploded.  How did nobody tell me?  How could everyone we knew let me find out through Facebook, of all places, that Jeff died?  I called Carah wanting to know why she didn’t tell me.  That’s when she told me she had been in Chicago because he wanted to see her.  He had a terrible infection and couldn’t fight it off.  He wasn’t going to let go until he saw her again.  I was cruel enough to accuse her of not telling me.

I went to his funeral and bawled my eyes out.  There were so many wonderful eulogies but I loved Carah’s best.  And I loved that he had done so much and loved so much in such a short time.  I couldn’t bring myself to go to the burial, it was too surreal thinking he was in that coffin I could only take so much.

He was a cool kid.