Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Pet Parent

For months Wade has been saying he wants a dog. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not been an everyday topic of conversation, but he’s mentioned it enough times for it to be pretty darned clear he wants a dog.

The refrain was repeated after Thea and Paul visited in July with their sweet dog Lilly. It reached a crescendo over Thanksgiving when we were in the company of the adorable Sir, Desiree and Sagi’s miniature pinscher from New York City, and Zoe, Carmen and Justin’s sweet-tempered dog in Virginia. So, of course, after returning home from Thanksgiving, the topic was reintroduced. This time, we took it so far as to explore breeds and criteria – not a large dog, not a breed that sheds. A big step in the process, my opening the door for the conversation. The conversation, once rolling, included who would get custody of the dog should we break up. We were dog paddling in some serious waters.

While never opposed to the idea, I was also never jumping with joy over it. For one thing, I’m more of a cat person. The lazy kind of cat person – as in, if one starts showing up on my doorstep, I’ll give it kitty massages between its little shoulder blades and talk sweetly to it and feed it kitty food and lactose-free milk so it won’t barf on my floors. It can come inside whenever it wants and leave just as easily. Independent, low maintenance, can use a litter box and not require regulated walking and sweaters and booties. Perfect.

Consequently, I had reservations about the dog thing. Major reservations. There’s the dog walking and the potential for scratched hardwood floors and chewed shoes. But the biggest reservation, the one that sends cold chills down my spine and causes my stomach to turn, has to do with a feeling of obligation – of being tied down by another creature that depends on me to provide food, water, fresh air, attention, walking. Every day. I cringe at this sense of duty. I reel with dizziness at the cramping of my free-wheeling lifestyle of weekend trips, spontaneous activities and not having to come straight home from work.

I imagine this is the same panic that causes guys to blanch and freak out when a girlfriend mentions the words “commitment” or “marriage” and they are facing the perceived loss of, well, all freedom. Yes, that bad. Then I remembered. In three years I have taken maybe 7 trips, none longer than a week – not quite what I’d call the life of an active traveler. My passport is expired. I don’t get enough vacation time to be jetting off all the time. I don’t make enough money to be jetting anywhere ever. I’m too lazy to plan a trip. I hate traveling alone and Wade works every weekend. I was still living in the vapors of the fantasy life I had outlined for myself but never got around to executing.

So, after months of resistance on my part, I started looking at the pictures of dogs on the Humane Society website. I read about the personalities and shedding of different breeds. I took an online quiz that analyzed personality and recommended potentially compatible dog types. Last night, I browsed the doggies on the Humane Society site again – and there he was. A sweet chocolate brown face peering at me from the list. “Moose.” Adult Male. Jack Russell Terrier / Min Pin. I clicked for more information. I was smitten.

Today at lunchtime, Wade and I went to the shelter(conveniently located around the corner from my office) to check out Moose. He was as cute in real life as in cyber. An amorous boy, he was trying like heck to hump the pug in the pen with him, but when we took him out of the pen, he was calm. He was cuddly. He was a perfect little gentleman. We liked him and he seemed to like us. When Junior got out of school, the two guys went back to the shelter for another visit, an outdoor walk and some playtime. If Moose wasn’t good with Junior, it would be a deal breaker. They got along fabulously.

The paperwork is completed, the adoption fee paid, and Moose, (soon to maybe be called “Jack,” but we’ll have to see about that) was shipped off to the vet for his mandatory neutering. We can pick him up tomorrow from the vet (conveniently located near the house). There is already a welcoming gift awaiting his arrival home, courtesy of the shelter – doggy treats, a cute bandanna, a stuffed chewy toy and lots of coupons for dog care and grooming. It’s going to be a Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Great Pains

Friday was going to be a normal day— drag self out of bed, head to the office, no casual Friday for me due meeting with work boss and client team about an event we’re planning that takes place on the 11th. The to-do list for the day included finishing billing review and sending it upstream to the partners for approval. It even held the potential for a complete full, one-hour lunch outside the building for the second time in about three weeks, which was good, because my reserves of frozen microwave lunches had been but a memory since about Tuesday.

It didn’t take long for the day to go wonky. The meeting at the client’s office ran long. At 11:00 we returned to our own office, with another unfortunately long list of time-sensitive tasks bearing my initials, including writing the scripting notes for the emcee of the event. To make it more exciting, the partner directing the project, who had been awaiting a call from the office of a high level state official for three days, was leaving at noon. My day turned into me serving a sentence at my desk in case the urgent call came in while the Boss Partner was out. On second thought, that’s pretty much a normal day after all.

Virginia, the office breakfast angel, had brought in Sausage McGriddles, which turned out to be a fortunate situation for me – one of those became my lunch. At 2:30, the first of what would be a long series of back and forth emails and calls came in. And I will say, it was fun to hear “Tammy, so-and-so from the highest ranking state official’s office is on line six three …”. Three times in one afternoon! But I don’t want to brag or drop names or anything. Hey, I got to feel important for a nanosecond.

At the end of the work day, it was a mad dash home to meet the HVAC contractor for the energy evaluation on the house and an estimate for a heating and cooling system. At 8:00, I heated up leftover pizza for us both, becasue we were ready to keel over with hunger, and a while later, the process was done. The verdict: my house is “loose,” with a lot of air drafting from the attic and basement. The attic needs more insulation. The furnace has been confirmed as a 1983 model – which means it is on borrowed time based on an average life of 10 to 15 years, a nugget of knowledge I possess from my recent crafting of the brilliant copy on the HVAC company’s website and ad series. And who knew that a system’s fan is NOT supposed to blow 24/7? (I sure didn’t.) Now I await the shocking news in the form of the estimate, which could very well send me into a permanent state of shock (just like in a soap opera).

In a shockingly brief time after the pizza ingestion, digestive disaster struck in the form of cramps, stomach spasms and shooting pains. It was a long night and a long wait until 9:00 to call my doctor’s office, which, fortunately, (brilliantly!) has weekend office hours. I had only to hang on until 1:30 for professional help. I felt a little like a dog that had swallowed a ball.

And one doctor’s visit, one urine sample, an x-ray, a pharmacy prescription for the spasms, the Christmas parade in 32 degree weather, a cancelled trip to Nashville (called off on the way to the Interstate due to intestinal distress) and 29 hours later, they were still with me. Along with hunger coupled with a total fear of eating. The official diagnosis? Well, let’s just say I’m going to live, and this, too, shall pass. I was a wee bit disappointed it wasn’t the alien creature I had predicted. So much for self diagnosis.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fear and Loathing of Christmas Sweaters

We are now deep into the Christmas season. The signs are everywhere. On December 1st we received our first tin of traditional Christmas popcorn from a client – the same client who delivers unto us the first hint of the holidays every year (Thanks Mr. Turner!). On the 2nd we received a tin of mixed chocolate and sugar and salty snacks from a print vendor. I guess I don’t need to worry about carrying breakfast in for a while. Of course, at Hobby Lobby the signs were there in metallic tinsel in time for the Fourth of July, when the employees were setting the Christmas garland displays in the aisle not far from the red, white and blue picnic plates and clearance garden ornaments. They should just accept what they are, change their signs to "The Southern Imitation of New England's Christmas Tree Shoppes" and be done with it.

By Halloween, every other retailer under the sun was busting out the Christmas crap right next to the vampire costumes. Nothing like bum-rushing the season. Let's get some icicle lights to go with the Trick-or-Treat candy, shall we?

And now that the Thanksgiving feast is but a memory preserved in 10,000 digital photos of family and friends around the table about to collapse under the weight of all the food, and the pilgrim and turkey sweaters are (thankfully) retired for a year, it's officially time to pull out the (tacky) festive (hideous) Christmas motif sweaters!

They are everywhere. It's like a science fiction fashion nightmare. "They came from nowhere … soon they were everywhere … of Biblical proportions … it was the annual plague of the Christmas sweaters…"

And don't forget the socks. And the earrings.

I think there is some wardrobe manual somewhere that declares that all teachers and women over the age of thirty-five must own at least one, and usually a full month’s worth, of Christmas sweaters. I come from a family of early adopters – my sister jumped on the Christmas sweater craze around age twenty. Poor thing. I love her, but she always was fashion-challenged. My conservative, nothing cut lower than a turtleneck mom, well, I can't remember a time she didn't have one or a dozen of the versions with pom poms or tassels swinging from her chest like a burlesque dancer. My sister-in-law has a full collection of the offending oversized, misshapen holiday sweaters that she has worn with leggings every year since the first time leggings were in style. (And in a freak accident of accelerated fashion cycles, she will actually be in style with the leggings thing this year! If only she would swap the nasty sneakers for some stylish boots…)

I refuse to go there. If my options were wearing a Christmas sweater or going naked and freezing at Christmas dinner, I'd choose freezing. Or skipping dinner altogether. There are very few things I take a hard stand on. This is one of them. It might actually be the only one.

I swear (and I beg) if you ever, ever, see me in a Christmas appliqué sweater adorned with ornaments and/or Scottie dogs in berets and/or Christmas trees and/or little jingly bells, please, please just shoot me on sight. This also applies to its cousin, the oversized sweatshirt adorned with puffy glitter paint. Because I think we all know that I will already have gone completely insane at that point. Such horrors are not part of my fashion repertoire. Red velvet, fitted, cropped jacket with red satin belt? Yes. Sweater loaded with pom poms and jingle bells? Not on your life. Print this blog and carry it in your wallet. You can hand it to the policemen on the scene as you are trying to explain my demise on the lawn.

I'm not against Christmas decorations. I'm fully in favor of decorating the house. I have the (fake and reusable) pine garland with pine cones and lights I can't plug in because there is no outside outlet at my vintage house (which totally blows because I could sure use the additional lighting out there). I have enough tree ornaments to decorate an entire forest. I love Christmas trees. I love lights. I am just not going to decorate myself in one of those awful sweaters. And you can't make me.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sweet Thanks

This Thanksgiving Boyfriend and I went to Virginia to spend the holiday with his Mom and two of his sisters and their boyfriends. A Scrabble Tournament, lots of peace and quiet, amazing food. I think we had one laptop per person in a totally wi-fi house. A good time all around. And in addition to the lovely time and the interesting companionship I received a gift.

Rescuing me from my plight (aka responding to my whining) of the absence of sweet potato fries in the Clarksville area, Boyfriend’s mom brought me a bag of sweet potato fries. And another friend has sent me creamy chicken ramen through a handoff worthy of a sports award (her to mom to dad to brother-in-law). I know some great people.

Tonight, I dined on a plate of sweet potato fries. Baked at 400 degrees for 15 minutes of excrutiating, tantalizing anticipation. Lightly salted. It was heaven. Thanks, Thea!

And as soon as I remember to pull into the computer shop instead of whizzing by it twice a day at 40 mph, I’ll be enjoying that ramen and thanking Rebecca.