Dumb dog

It’s 11:21 PM and I’m reclining in the dark of our family room on our hand-me-down sectional with its unsupportive old cushions.

The back door is open so I can hear the soothing gurgling of our outdoor fountain but I also hear the lip-smacking mouth noises my dumb dog is making because she has yet another upset tummy.

Maybe this is weird, but for years now this dog has had a sensitive stomach and whenever it’s bad, she runs into the back yard and chews leaves until she vomits. Then she feels better and life goes on.

The vet recommended an antacid which I gave the dog earlier but alas, it didn’t do the trick.

What’s especially maddening is that these episodes–which have no rhyme or reason–happen late at night when I really (REALLY) need sleep. (For instance, tomorrow I have a job-related meeting in San Diego at 10 AM. I need to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and in my Fiat by 8:30 or so.)

I had just settled into bed tonight, in fact, when the dog tapped on our bedroom door, asking to be let out.

She ran down the stairs and into the dark of the yard, did whatever voodoo she does and came inside where she . . . seems to have quieted down.

Now I have a choice:

1) Go back to bed and sleep soundly until morning.

2) Go back to bed and have the dog rouse me again causing me to fly into a murderous rage. (Just kidding. No murder here. No rage. Just exasperation and sorrow.)

3) Stay put on this horrible sectional until my back aches and my arms grow numb. Wait.

Choices, choices.

*

(In other news, I spent a very pleasant day today with my daughter in Palm Springs where we mostly thrift-shopped. I just might survive her adolescence. Stay tuned.)

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Dumb dog

Merging is hard

Listen. I’m almost entirely self-taught when it comes to computer stuff. I know how to use Microsoft Word, more or less.  Sometimes much less.

For the purpose of context, let me mention a few things.

  1. Today was my mom’s 75th birthday. We went to Blaze Pizza for lunch and then to Baskin Robbins for her freebie birthday scoop. I had a very busy birthday-related day.
  2. Today I had a polygraph test scheduled. It was the next step in my quest to become a Public Safety Dispatcher in a nearby city. I applied on December 11 for this job and I’m nearing the end of the process (I hope, please God, let it be).
  3. I’m also in the application process to become a dispatcher for the Sheriff’s Department. I’m currently filling out a very long and detailed questionnaire about my background. It’s due tomorrow.
  4. The polygraph test took a full two and a half hours. I thought I’d be out of there in an hour.  No.  I didn’t get home–with dinner–until about 7:15 PM.

After frosting the chocolate cake I baked this morning and finishing dinner, it was about 8 PM and I still had to finish up the questionnaire.  Mainly, I had to figure out to print out mailing labels that included all the addresses I had to include in the questionnaire.

There were less than fifty addresses and I was instructed to have them print “going down the column, not across.”

Before I could even get to that point, I had to create the list of addresses and then figure out how to “mail merge” them into the correct form so I could print them on the labels provided.  This entire process took me almost three hours.  And I never did figure out how to print them “going down” and not across.

Merging is hard, you guys!

So, my half-hearted labels will have to be good enough.  I doubt they’ll actually get to the point of sending out reference forms anyway since (please God, let it be) I will get the other job first. The Sheriff’s Department is about a month behind the city.

Have you ever had a polygraph test?  It was more stressful than I anticipated.

First, the examiner sat and talked with me for awhile. He asked me to tell him about myself. Then we went over a lot of the answers I had already disclosed in the course of my application process. We may have gone over everything, actually. It all blurs together.

After an hour and a half, we took a break and then I realized that my armpits were sweaty.  And that was before I was hooked up for the actual test.

Then he explained how the polygraph test would go.

I was told to sit very still. Monitors clipped onto two fingers. Straps went around my body, under my armpits and around my stomach. A blood pressure cuff was fastened around my calf.

Then he told me what questions I’d be asked. He told me to lie to two particular questions (in each of the four blocks of questions). Then he asked questions and I had to answer “yes” or “no” without moving.  Each block of questions took about five minutes.

Honestly, while you are being asked questions, your mind starts to wander and turn your answers over in your mind during the thirty silent seconds between questions. You start to wonder things like, “What if it looks like I’m lying even though I’m telling the truth?” and you think, “Do courts accept lie detector tests as evidence?” and, really, it’s just stressful even if you are telling the absolute truth.

I thought about how much this test was like some monitoring I had done for a research study I was involved in. I thought how much the chair looked like an electric chair. I felt sleepy, like I was being hypnotized because I was practicing slow breathing techniques to stay calm.

But he said my preliminary results looked good–no guarantees, he said–and that I could tell the investigator that I’m ready to move to the next step.

Tomorrow, I get fingerprinted for a LiveScan test.

Then I call the detective from the Sheriff’s Department to tell him the background packet has been completed.

This limbo between jobs is its own unique kind of stress. I’m really ready for my future to solidify. Not knowing exactly when and where and how and who and what makes me uneasy.

Merging is hard

The closet

(This cat finds March Madness unimpressive.)

***

I did not go on a hike today, but still, I walked more than 10,000 steps cleaning out my closet. I had to try on almost everything and so I’d grab an item and put it on while walking over to the mirror for a look.

I’m exhausted.

I gathered five big bags of clothes to drop off at the thrift store.

I still have too many clothes (and nothing to wear), but that’s a problem for another day.

Now that I have finished that task, I must face taxes (and death) as they are inevitable. The taxes this week–or next (let’s not rush into things) and death, hopefully in 50 years after I’ve lived long enough to get revenge on my kids.

(I’m just kidding.)

(Or am I? I’ll let you know in 49 years.)

The closet

The sky is (not) falling (though the patio cover is)

And today, a second termite extermination company guy came over to inspect my house. He also confirmed termite activity and a rotting patio covering.

“It’s not an emergency,” he said.

It’s not an emergency.

My across-the-street neighbor told me the other day that his dad told him that a problem that can be fixed with money is not really a problem.  (Or something like that.)

Really, anything that can be solved with money is not the end of the world.  A rebellious child, a fatal disease, a killer mudslide, a vicious avalanche, a broken heart . . . none of these things can be prevented with money.  (Can they?)  Those are Problems.

So it’s all perspective, right?

I’m just trying to do the right thing and make the right choices–which is pretty much the story of my life. It’s disorienting, though, to have your actions as a parent questioned by the very people you are doing your best to raise and protect. (I’m so tired of this.)

Having your intentions misunderstood or misinterpreted by your kids is a special type of pain that you can’t really imagine before you have kids.  (Utterly exhausted.)

Balancing freedom and safety . . . granting permission or just saying no . . . it’s just exhausting some days, isn’t it?  (I need a vacation.)

*

Today, one of my sons texted me to let me know he forgot to tell me he was going out of town for a conference and that he needed to pack business-casual clothes and could I help him?  And, by the way, some of the clothes were dirty.  So, I helped him out because I’m nice like that. I also bought him two new pairs of pants at Costco because college students don’t usually have enough “business casual” outfits to last four days.  At least my college students don’t.

Between that, the termite inspector, giving a different child bad news (“you can’t go”) and having that child furious with me . . . and then making an appearance in a class my husband was teaching . . . I had another one of those crazy busy days. I did get my walk in and I did clean up my kitchen, so there’s that.

And so far, the sky is not falling, nor is the deck cover.  (But there’s always tomorrow.)

The sky is (not) falling (though the patio cover is)

A nibble here and rot there

I started my day dropping Lola off for a bath, brush and nail trim. Lola is my Bernese Mountain dog. That info is for those of you who haven’t been following along at home.

By 9:30 AM, I was on the phone with the insurance company (twice) trying to figure out who failed me this time. Bureaucracy is fun, am I right?

Then at 10:20 I was walking the muddy trail with my husband. He accompanies me on my daily hour-long hike a few times a week. I had to break it to him that my podcasts are more entertaining than he was today, but I think that was just my Daylight Savings fatigue being rude.

I was barely out of the shower at 11:54 AM when my twelve o’clock appointment showed up. A nice guy from a termite extermination company inspected my house and informed me he didn’t find anything scary in my attic, “only termite droppings.”

I said, “Um, that sounds scary to me!” And he said, “Well, I thought you meant something scary like rat droppings.”

He checked out my patio covering and let he know that the wood is not falling apart because of termites but just because it’s rotting due to age. Well, great. If that’s not good news, I don’t know what is. Ha.

He left at 1:20 PM and I went and picked up Lola from the groomer. I had a half an hour before it was time to pick up my daughter from school, so I watched part of a episode of Breaking Bad. I’m ten years behind the times. Please, no spoilers.

I dropped my daughter off at her friend’s house, then came home to cook dinner. Then I went back to pick her up.

Now the day is done. It’s 10:20 PM.

I’m tired but at least I wrote this.

Tomorrow’s excitement includes dropping off a car at a collision center. (It’s always something.)

A nibble here and rot there

Revive me again

I’ve spent hours going through old blog posts because at some point my blog became contaminated with spam links. I noticed this a couple of weeks ago when a link to my blog came up in my Facebook feed.  I read the post and noticed a strange link and then realized that spam is spread throughout my blog like termites. So I’m going through each post and removing the link by hand. (So far, I’m finished with 2009 and 2008.)

Speaking of termites, I’m so afraid we have them, at least in the large wooden patio covering in my back yard. Some of the wood is coming apart and if I lived in Washington state still, I’d just assume it’s rotting wood or something inexplicable but now I’m just worried about termites.  I’m having some companies come and do “free” inspections but it strikes me as improbable that a company who is in the business of exterminating termites would not FIND termites.  It’s like a kick-back from them to them.

Anyway, reading my blog posts from ten years ago has been an encouragement to blog more regularly. In ten years I won’t remember so much of this time in my life. I can see that clearly because when I read those posts from 2008, I am flooded with emotions. And I want to kiss myself on the lips in gratitude for preserving in words all those minutes and days and weeks.

For instance, will I remember in ten years that today my cell phone rang and my 20-year old son told me, “First of all, we are okay,” before explaining that “his” car (that we leased) was rear-ended on the freeway because he had to stop suddenly?  He managed not to hit the car in front of him but the guy behind him smashed into the bumper and trunk of his car.  He pulled over and took a photo of the guys’ license. He photographed both cars and got the guys’ phone number. Then he called me.

The funny thing is that the smashed in part of the car had already been dented (by an unknown driver in a parking lot way back when he first got his license) and then by rolling backward in the driveway and bumping (hard!) into a fire hydrant. I’m still not exactly sure how that might have happened, but it did.

Will I remember that it rained today and that I:

1) Woke up at 7:15 AM and got up at 8:30 AM and went for a walk on the trails?  Even though it was lightly raining?

2) Drove Adam to work at 10 AM?

3) Came home and ate yogurt and homemade granola while watching an episode of Breaking Bad (Season 4 – I am ten years behind everyone else)?

4)  Agreed to meet husband for lunch at Souplantation at 1 PM and when he called at 12:47 PM and said, “Are you almost here?” and I said, “Um, yeah,” and when he said, “Where are you?” and I hesitated for just a second before confessing, “In the laundry room.”?  (I followed that up with, “You SAID one o’clock!”)

(We tardy people always think we can do just One More Thing.  In this case, I thought I could just switch the laundry real quick before heading out. Non-tardy people show up fifteen minutes early.)

*

My 15-year old daughter spent the night last night at her friend Erika’s house. She’s there all day and tonight, too. I just read about her five-year old self in my blog posts from 2008 and it kind of makes my heart hurt to remember. Then again, I had those sweet times with her, even if she can’t remember them.  Even if she’d rather be at some other house all day and all night.

*

I’m in the background investigation stage of getting a new job as a dispatcher. It feels super invasive to have questionnaires sent to my seven references plus my family members, including the sister who hasn’t spoken to me in fifteen years. I feel like I haven’t really taken a deep breath since December 11, 2017, when I applied for this job.  I just really want the job.

*

I just read an Ann Patchett book (This is the Story of a Happy Marriage) and it was a delight. Now I’m reading a quick mystery by Harlan Coben.

*

And with that, I consider this blog revived.

Revive me again

Missing

I stood in line at Target today with an armful of things I didn’t know I needed until I found them while on a quest to get hair mousse.

In front of me stood a woman with a little girl. I watched them interact.

The woman ran her fingers through the child’s hair and asked her if she’d brushed it that morning. The woman told the girl that something was bad for her brain (screen-time? I didn’t hear) and that they should get some exercise, maybe go for a walk.

I remembered with a pang when my girl was that small and I felt such a rush of longing for her small self. I miss her childhood in a way that I never missed my sons’ younger days. Maybe that’s because the boys were all noise and headlocks and video games and smelly socks and unflushed toilets.

My daughter was dollies and tea parties. She was stickers and markers and notes penned to the “Best Mommy In the Whole World.” She was stuffed animals and “Finding Nemo.” We used to walk around the block in the afternoons and when she was really little, she once insisted on going into a neighbor’s yard where she started to gather their ceramic gnomes.

We did everything together, and not just because she would cry if I left her with a sitter. She loved to swim and she adored the ocean, so we’d go on long strolls down the beach. “Want to go see the sunset?” and she’d always say yes. She’d insist on wearing a swimsuit, even for a nightly stroll when it was too cold for getting wet and she’d get splashed anyway.

For years, I took her to every soccer practice and every soccer game. I sat on the sidelines while she practiced, even when other parents just dropped their kids off. She talked non-stop while we drove from place to place. Her constant chatter was the soundtrack of my life.

When she was very little, she’d come into my bed every night or early every morning. She’d rotate like she was a rotisserie chicken and it drove me absolutely crazy how she could not be still. If she didn’t come into bed, she’d just wake me every ten minutes by standing bedside and saying, “Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom.” until I stirred.

(When was the last time she crawled into bed with me?)

What I’m saying is that we were close.  We were very close. Every night she’d call downstairs, “I’m ready!” and I’d go upstairs and tell her goodnight.

Until one night, she didn’t call me upstairs and I didn’t notice.

She used to watch “Survivor” with me and then one night, I remember saying, “Okay, but only if you’re still and if you don’t talk.” (I so regret those moments I was irritable and short with her. I thought we had forever.)

She never watches television with me anymore, even when I ask.

I miss her.

I miss her blond curls. I miss her hand in mine. I miss her absolute belief in me.

Now, sometimes when I say something, she scrunches her darkened eyebrows at me, conveying her astonishment at my ignorance or . . . whatever. I get that scrunchy-eyebrow look fairly regularly. She is far, so far from me.

I never, ever expected her to drift away. I thought that we would always be close. (Is that crazy?) I don’t even know the moment that the tide carried her away and now she’s a speck out in the sea.

So, she’s growing up, becoming herself by trying on some different personas. (Her current persona has purple hair and wants a septum piercing.) She’s 15. She has to find her way. She will find her way.  (I hope it’s back to me, someday.)

Meanwhile.

My heart is an empty nest, feathered with memories of a little girl who once adored me.

Missing