Friday, May 26, 2017

I am old and I know things and let me tell you all the things. Also? Please think I'm cool.

It's graduation time and that means a lot of stuff.

Well-intentioned but obviously clueless relatives like me write things in graduation cards like, "It's been fun watching your track and cross country exploits from afar. We're so proud of you." When really, what I want to write is, "I know you hardly know who I am and that's OK. I'm your dad's cousin and you peed on me once when you were a baby. I think you're great. Here, have $50. Also? I get it. All graduation cards are lame. But I'm sooo cooooool, I swear!"

Well-intentioned but obviously old and creepy former babysitters like me do a little stalking. I found out that the two darling little girls that I took care of for years and whom I loved very much are both ... doctors. Like, in white coats and starting their residencies and able to deal with bodily functions. I reached out via Facebook in, again, a hopefully not lame-o manner. I got friendly responses, but also, they totally didn't remember me. Doctors are smart. Maybe they are just instinctively distancing themselves from someone who is clearly way old and out of touch. See also: I write lame graduation cards.

Well-intentioned but obviously Not Cool friends of your mom like me try to help new college grads get jobs and write overbearing emails with gems like, "Here, let me tell you everything about my city and you can live here, too! And there's an IKEA, so it will be easy to set up a new apartment and here, you can just have our dining room chairs and your mom is so great and I think this would be a great job for you and I totally get it because I'm young and hip like you."

Except I'm not.

I'm old.

Twenty years ago, I graduated from the University of Missouri. On Friday, I turned 22. On Saturday, I graduated. On Sunday, I drove to Indiana. On Monday, I interviewed at Notre Dame for a graduate assistantship in marketing for the athletic department.

I met with at least five different people, including a lovely woman who only wanted to talk about my upcoming trip to the UK. Then I visited with a funny and frank man who wanted to make sure I'd be OK with being asked to do stuff like attend mass in a hotel room because a priest traveled with the teams all the time.

My main contact was a guy who was a little frazzled, which was accentuated by the fact that his linen pants were torn and held together at the hip with a safety pin (Really? Your football program brings in how much money? Even newly 22-year-old me was slightly offended.). He promised to be in touch within a week. The entire interview went well. I felt really positive about it, even though a security guard wouldn't let me drive through campus because I didn't have the right sticker. Whatever. It was cool.

Friends, I am still up for that job. Despite numerous follow-ups on my part (via phone, because not everyone had e-mail and so I had to call and leave actual voice messages and risk talking to a real human), I never heard from any of those people ever again. I can only assume that the job is still open and I'm still a viable candidate. I could be called upon to move to South Bend at any moment! They might ask me to get a tattoo of Touchdown Jesus to show my dedication to the job and the school - who knows?

Maybe I'm living a fantasy. Or maybe people should just send the damned "Thanks but no thanks" letter so some of us don't put our lives on hold for 20 years.

Here's the thing. You write the note - be it for graduation or to say thanks or to offer a helping hand - for one reason and one reason alone. You might be thinking, "Of course! Do unto others!" And that sounds nice and probably should be the right answer, but no. No, the correct answer is that you write the note so that you can keep buying pretty stationery. Also, so you can feel morally superior. But mostly so you can buy more stationery.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Behind the Doodle.

Working from home has damaged my ability to get places on time. And having a puppy has really just destroyed whatever remained of my "get there when I said I would" skillz.

Case in point?
This gorgeous boy who loves nothing in this world more than he loves plastic cups? Well, he's doing better with potty training. He will do his business outside, but you have to remind him. And if you and Walter don't have synchronized "thinking about potty" and "needing to potty" schedules? Well, good luck.

I was getting ready for a lunch meeting with a new client. Yeah, it was approaching lunchtime and I had just gotten dressed. I work from home. Don't judge me!

I had just gotten dressed, but I was barefoot. Suddenly, I slipped. My heel hit a puddle and in slow motion, I oh-so-gracefully did the splits. And then I sort of fell sideways. Into a larger puddle.

See, the thing about Walter the Wonderdoodle is that his paws are roughly the size of dinner plates. Sure, he's only 3 and a half months old, but he's clearly going to be the size of a conversion van. So, he's got these giant feet, and they're furry. Another data point of note: Walter is incapable of peeing and then not walking through it.

The puddle that caused my initial slide wasn't really a puddle. It was merely a paw print.

I slid through the pee-pee paw print, probably ripped some muscle in my back that will never be the same, and then fell over sideways into a large puddle of pee. An ocean of urine, if you will.

Because when you have a big puppy, they create big puddles of pee. I don't know why we haven't bought stock in Bounty and Nature's Miracle spray.

Anyway, to recap: slip, slide, puddle, covered in urine, on my way to meet a new client.

I decided to be all ladylike and clean up and change my clothes, even if it meant being a few minutes late.

You're welcome.

At least I was able to tell the client and he laughed appropriately. Because let's be honest: if you can't laugh about dog pee, we probably aren't a good fit.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Sometimes blessings hurt.

Walter the Wonderdoodle is pure joy - jumping and exploring and drinking it all in.

However.

He's jumping on people and brand-new kitchen cabinets. Exploring means that he's unearthed a bunny nest, has discovered the magic of digging, and loves to rip up hostas. And drinking it all in means that one big gulp of water equals not one but five gigantic pees - most likely in the house - within anywhere between five and 20 minutes.

Also? He loves to eat paper towels, so you best be quick when cleaning up those puddles.

I am new-puppy tired. It's the kind of tired that feels like a dirty secret, like something that shouldn't be admitted. He's so adorable! He's such a blessing! He bit my face two days ago and I still look like I've been in a fight!

One of my neighbors stopped me in the street. Not to comment on my mauled visage, but on the puppy. She asked, "How are you? Are you sleeping?"

She is the mother of four kids under the age of 4. She asked me this while she had a newborn strapped to her chest.

It was so kind of her to ask, and I felt seen. But I immediately felt guilty and said, "I am not going to complain about sleep to the mom of a newborn!" Like I was all tightly wound Joan Crawford and obsessed with etiquette, lest people find out that I'm a schlep after all.

I could fall asleep on the floor right now.
Like this guy, in a rare moment of repose.
It's a weird muscle memory. I was up so much with sweet geriatric Big Doodle in his final months, and falling back to sleep wasn't always my strong suit. And with Wonderdoodle? Well, it's like my body said, "Oh, we're doing this again? Bad decision, but OK." And I'm up looking at Facebook at 4 a.m. because the puppy needed to potty at 3.

It was a privilege to care for Big Doodle. It is a huge blessing to welcome Walter into our home and help him grow. But it hurts.

And my mom friends look at each other knowingly - or at least I imagine they do - like, "She doesn't know true sleep deprivation because she's never had a baby." And like talking to my sweet neighbor, I guess I think they are right, like I have no right to complain.

But right now? Right now, spending 23 hours a day with a puppy that is either passed out or insane and a crotchety dachshund who is just pissed off about the entire situation and bit me this morning because he mistook my finger for the rawhide I was attempting to pry out of the Wonderdoodle's maw?

Well, at least newborns don't have razor-sharp teeth.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Making peace with my emotional maturity. Also? Why doesn't someone ask me to prom?

It never occurred to me that there were things I couldn't do. Sure, there were things I didn't want to do, like run or physically exert myself in any way. But as far as things I was capable of doing? Well, the sky was the limit.

Keeping that sense of possibility has sometimes been a challenge. At 41, I am still coming to terms with the fact that I will most likely never be an astronaut or Miss America. But I still have lots of other options.

Except.

I realized today that yet another door has closed and my world is getting smaller.

I am never going to prom again.

I know. I know! It's hard for me to accept, too. But I am on year 24 of not being asked to the prom. I had a pretty good run of being asked to the prom two years in a row (not counting the time I asked a guy to prom through the drive-thru at Wendy's). But since those two years of promtasticness? It's been a long and lonely slog.

I try to keep up with prom fashions. And my mom and I faithfully watch the local high school's promenade on public access cable every year. The kids are no longer the younger siblings of my younger brother's classmates. Now, they are the kids of my classmates. Or - gasp - the kids of kids I babysat.

My name is Becky. I'm 41. And it would be mega creepy if I attended prom.

I loved prom because I liked to dress up. And picking out a dress was soooooo fun. My mom and I had a ball. Now? Now, I have a wedding to attend on Saturday, and instead of being excited about dressing up, I am wondering if I really have to shave my legs. After all, no one looks at you if you're not the bride.

But prom? Prom was dressing up with your friends and delighting in how adult it all seemed. Which is funny, because prom is pretty much the least adult event ever. Nowhere in adulthood are there streamers and themes like "Enchantment Under the Sea." When you walk into the bank or the hardware store, no one is wearing corsages. They don't even have balloons or punch.

Maybe it's for the best. Prom is honestly a lot of hype for a just pretty OK event. Don't get me wrong, I loved it. But in the grand scheme of things? I've had more fun at a football game.

The one part of prom I refuse to give up? The fashion. I love the dresses and the sparkle of high school kids who feel fancy.

But you know I also have a bone to pick with some of the dresses. And here's where I torture you as I am being tortured. Once I saw this, I realized I couldn't unsee it. Now, you are in the same boat.

These dresses by Sherri Hill are youthful and cute.
But there's something weird about the models.
They all look ... uncomfortable.
This girl is trying to make the best of it, but she can't help but wince with pain.
All these models look like ...
... they have raging yeast infections.
It's not just me, right? This looks horrible.
If going to prom means getting a yeast infection, I'm totally cool with staying home. This girl looks miserable.
This is not the first time I've thought this. I guess the brand is going for a youthful vibe and a certain year-over-year consistency in their modeling poses. But having some sort of crotch-based hand or leg-crossing in every shot does not say "fun and flirty" to me. It says, "I need some yogurt, stat."

So, maybe it's OK that I've officially aged out of prom. My properly balanced hoo-ha is just fine at home in yoga pants. Thanks.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Things the puppy wants to chew: A room-by-room compendium.

Bathroom
  • Toilet brush
  • Toilet paper
  • Plunger
  • The little plastic cup thingys that cover the toilet bolts
  • Actually, anything toilet-related
  • Shower curtain and shower curtain liner
  • That one spot in the middle of the baseboard that must smell amazing
Bedroom
  • Curtains
  • Dust ruffle
  • All blankets and sheets
  • Shoes
  • Chair legs
  • Socks
  • That weird foam thing we put at the bottom of the door to the closet to keep the cold air in the uninsulated closet and out of the bedroom; you know, that thing that is covered in dog hair and three years of dust?
"I am told this is officially sanctioned chewing. Therefore, it obviously holds little interest for me."
Kitchen
  • Quarter-round trim around brand-new cabinets
  • Dish towels
  • Refrigerator
Living areas
  • Books
  • Magazines
  • Fringe on rug under kennel
  • Any dirt or tree gunk on the floor
  • Paper towels: new are fine, but preferably those already used to sop up puppy pee, as they provide further enrichment when drug across the floor, spreading urine
  • All USB and power cords, now and forever, the most delicious items on the planet
"Human! Earn your keep by providing your hand for my teething pleasure!"
Outside
  • Mulch
  • Dirt
  • Grass
  • Air
  • Rocks
  • Patio furniture
  • Did we mention mulch?
"I shall chew all that I survey!"
All areas of the home
  • People
  • Clothing
  • Hair
  • Jewelry

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Seventeen things I've learned from having a puppy for lo these six days.

Although I have long been a crazy dog lady, I have never had a puppy until Walter the Wonderdoodle came into our home just a few days ago. He is the bestest, cutest, smartest pup on the planet and has already taught me many things.

1. Toilets are AMAZING. They offer a rich bouquet of fragrances and we should all strive to get as close to that olfactory palette as possible. This includes - but is not limited to - trying to climb inside the toilet.

2. It is possible to get stuck behind the toilet.

3. If you should get stuck behind the toilet, scream like you are being actively mauled by a bear. If you can do this in the dark to further confuse your pack, all the better.
Toilet kidnapping aftermath: Total exhaustion.
4. It is possible to get inside a dishwasher.

5. Schedule bringing home a new pup to coincide with the delivery of nine cubic yards of mulch. The newest family member understands each and every wood chip deserves to be chewed and perhaps even carried inside.

6. Nine cubic yards of mulch is approximately 32,627,973 mouthfuls of mulch.

7. Mulch does not match our interior design.

8. It is impossible to pee outside while surrounded by fresh mulch. There are too many smells.
"Hey! Did you guys know there's mulch up here?"
9. Earrings are made for chewing.

10. That goes for bracelets, too.

11. And that sweater with the fringy stuff on it.

12. Also the quilt grandma made.

13. Water tastes better out of someone else's glass. It is worth scaling a side table to reach.
It's an immersive experience.
14. It is a true CRISIS when all members of the pack are not in the same room. If one of the humans happens to leave the room to go to the bathroom or to get something from the kitchen, there is but one option: scream. Do not stop until everyone is back in the same room, no matter how much the humans might try to soothe you or divert your attention with some sort of inferior, non-human toy.

15. If not having the entire pack in the same room is a crisis, having a pack member in the shower is THE WORST THING THAT'S EVER HAPPENED. You just don't know if or when somebody can come back from that. Screaming and scratching on the shower door is mandatory.

16. Miniature dachshunds are crabby and way too touchy. They snap when you try to tackle them.
"Will somebody get this bro away from me? Who invited this guy, anyway?"
17. Being highly malleable and sporting a large puppy belly will allow you to get away with just about anything.
"And this is how it's done, kids. Watch and learn."
Seriously.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Death and Mexico.

Because I strive to celebrate the absurd and find the humor, I'm going to tell you how it really went down.

I took a long-awaited girls' trip with three of my most wonderful friends. We went to Cancun. They all flew together on a flight that ended up being delayed. I found myself with hours to kill at the Cancun airport.

As I sat down in an airport bar, my phone buzzed. It was my husband, asking if I had landed. Yep. Just ordered a Dos Equis Amber. Then he asked if he could call me later. Huh?

I got it out of him via text. Big Doodle had taken a dramatic turn. My Guy would call me in a bit.

And so I sat in this airport bar where no one spoke English. I tried to keep it together. I thought about how I had said to My Guy the night before, "Listen, I know you think I'm nuts, but if something happens with Big Doodle, don't deal with it by yourself. Call someone. Call Todd or Josh or any of those guys. You don't have to be alone." And he had given me that universal tone that husbands use, that tone that says, "I love you but you're crazy but I love you so I'm gonna pretend I'm totally vested in what you just said." And so I let it be.

But back at the airport bar, I realized I'd said what I said because I'd had a premonition. That giant dog was waiting for me to leave. My mom said he was still alive due to my sheer will. Maybe he was afraid of disappointing me.

My Guy called me. It was sometimes hard to hear him over the blaring Mexican pop music, but he said Big Doodle was in obvious pain and couldn't urinate. He was going to take him to the vet the next day and was calling to ask ... permission.

Of course. Oh, honey. I don't want that dog to suffer for one second. By this time, I had tears streaming down my face. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry I'm not there.

Also ... he did realize the vet was open late tonight, right?

Oh. He would call them immediately. We hung up. I cried into my beer and realized that cocktail napkins are not at all absorbent. My husband texted to say he was headed to the vet. I put my chin to my chest and tried to be invisible. I was thankful no one was attempting to talk to me. Even the waiter was actively ignoring me.

And then, the Mexican pop music clouds parted. And "Young Turks" by Rod Stewart started playing.

Why? Who is to say? Maybe the people of Cancun really want young hearts to be free tonight. Maybe time really is on their side?

Then, "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang came on. I was aware that it is against NATO and the United Nations and probably the Geneva Convention to cry during "Celebration." So I stopped. And then the Mexican pop music started again.

I went to find my friends.

After an adventure wherein I discovered that I was at the wrong terminal and I got fleeced by a cabbie giving me a ride to the other terminal but I didn't care because I was barely holding it together, I arrived at the proper terminal. I took one look at my friends and started crying. We got in the shuttle van to the resort.

They were kind, but it was late and the ride wasn't short. Everything looked so distorted and not right, and all I could think was, "I hate Mexico. This is the worst. Mexico is the worst." And then my phone rang.

It was my darling husband. He was crying. I started crying. He told me about our sweet, geriatric boy, about how tests had suggested the cancer had spread from his bladder to his kidneys and liver. He said it was the right thing to do, that our boy was so tired and ready to go. My Guy held our pup as he crossed over.

I apologized to him for making him do this by himself. He apologized to me that it happened while I was gone. We both cried and apologized. And then my van pulled up to a very nice resort.

I got off the phone, got out of the van, and sobbed. My friends put their arms around me and made sure our luggage was unloaded and everything was OK-ish. I felt like all the skin was peeling off my face.

And then? Then, I realized that the bellhops and concierges who had initially greeted our shuttle had scattered. I had noticed the looks they exchanged. Friends, I'm here to tell you that men's reactions to women who are sobbing is universal. There is no language barrier here. They all panic and gladly run in the other direction.

Finally, the greeters drew straws and the loser timidly came out of hiding to offer us scary blue champagne. He tried not to make eye contact. Since I figured I looked like that guy from "Mask," I couldn't blame him. I had stopped crying, but I was clearly hideous.

--

The first two days, I was just exhausted and sad. By day three, I was starting to feel a bit more human. An all-inclusive resort didn't hurt, nor did time with my friends on the beach and by the pool.

It all got real when I got home. My Guy had moved the giant dog beds out of every room. Lil' Frankfurter greeted me like he'd never expected to see me again. And then I spent about a week thinking I'd forgotten to let Big Doodle inside, like he was still in the backyard, chilling in the shrub where he liked to lounge while surveying his domain.

Grief is crazy. The flavors are endless. This particular grief is tempered by knowing that we had been on borrowed time for quite a while. It's sadness and relief and loneliness for a very, very good dog.

I decided I don't hate Mexico. Much.