Tag Archives: decisions

And I get a new name!

Having realized that structure is essential to my mental well-being and that getting out of the house is absolutely vital for my sanity – and thus the general health of my marriage – I have made big plans to leave the house today.  I wrote down time frames and everything.

It seems, however, that I am out to get myself, and I make little deals with myself all day to get out of actually stepping through the threshold and out into the world.  Example:

Me1: “Bird, you will walk the dog at 2pm and then get your butt to the library and apply for some jobs and graduate schools! Okay?”
Me2: “Sure!  That sounds fine, and totally reasonable, except I just put in this banana bread and I can’t very well leave it baking alone in the house.  How about I walk the dog at 3?”
Me1: “Well, fine, you can walk the dog at 3, but then, to the library you go!”

I’ll spare you the whole monologue, but let it suffice to say that it is 4:27 and I am sitting in a rather comfy chair in my dining room.  Foiled again!

But here’s what I am doing: setting things up that I just cannot get out of.  For example?  Roller derby.

I know, I know, we broke up.  We broke up twice, or maybe three times now.  Yes, it’s an on-again-off-again relationship.  But you know that first true love who you promised to always love, forever and ever, no matter what, even if you married other people and had families you would always love each other at least somewhere in your heart?  Well, Roller Derby and I did that.

While I’m not skating right now and I’m unemployed, I realized that I sort of need roller derby, especially since otherwise, I would never leave the house. So, as a former coxswain, I have decided to be a referee.  I have been to 3 scrimmages in this role, and you know what? It’s kind of awesome, and not enough people talk about how awesome it is.  It’s roller derby without getting hurt; it’s roller derby without the jitters before the whistle blows – because, ahem, I am the one blowing the whistle.

I have a ton to learn: the rules, in detail, the hand signals, how to skate while paying attention to whether other girls skating are following those rules, all while not falling over or getting run into or skating into the coaches yelling at them from the sidelines.

Anyway.  I don’t have much to say beyond that I’m excited, that I am leaving the house, and that, while my heart has been broken once or twice (or, um, three or four times) by roller derby, I’m still really, really excited to be a part of it again.*

Now tell me: what do you do to get out of the house?  How do you keep from going crazy?  If you think I’m not going crazy, just wait for the video on tomorrow’s Flying Dingo.  Yes, a video… of dog boots.  Coming soon from a Crazy Near You.

*Side effects vary, but already I’m working out religiously, because how can you not want to be in shape when surrounded by women made entirely of muscle and brute force?  I feel better already. Also, now I don’t have to feel sad every time I see that I still have a Roller Derby tag on my blog. Woo hoo unexpected side effects!

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FunEmployment

You may remember that back in November, I quit my job.  Aaaand by quit my job, I mean I gave notice. Ahem, five weeks’ notice.

run away, run away!

You guys!  If you are going to leave your job, I highly recommend giving way, way less than five weeks’ notice.  Here’s what happened over my last five weeks: I got less invested and they did not hire a replacement.  Both things that were not good.  Also, I made some money.  That‘s a good reason to give five weeks’ notice.

What am I getting to here?  After leaving my job, and doing lots of petsitting, yesterday marked my first day of full-on unemployment.  I know a lot of other people are also dealing with (f)unemployment, and after watching my wife survive six months of it, I have some thoughts on how to maintain my sanity and enjoy – yes, I hope to enjoy! – this temporary period of having absolutely no job at all:

First, know that it is temporary. Maybe say this to yourself every single day.  So often these days, Turtle says, “Wow, I wish I’d done this when I was unemployed!”  Because it seems so endless, it’s hard to be motivated; but it will end, so take advantage of your, ahem, unpaid vacation time.

you know, live for the moment, dance like no one is watching, all that jazz.

Second, get up at a reasonable hour. I say reasonable hour because it’s pretty subjective.  For me, a reasonable hour is sometime between 6:30 and 7am.  It gives me time to sleep in a bit, but still have my entire day.

Third, start your day with something productive. I drop Turtle off at the bus stop and then take Daphne for a good off-leash romp somewhere.  I signed up to volunteer at a local wildlife center, so every Monday morning I have somewhere to be.  It’s nice to start the week feeling like I’ve accomplished something, even if it was just show up and look at pretty raptors (you guys!  Yesterday a Broad Winged Hawk was NOT happy with me. It was awesome.).

Tuesday morning hike with the beast.

Finally, set some goals. Mine are probably very different from what yours would be, but they include working with Daph on 3 new tricks a week, taking her out for at least 30-45 minutes every day, and writing every single weekday.  They’re not big goals, but they are productive and measurable and manageable.

Yesterday I did my volunteering and then deep cleaned the kitchen and reorganized a few parts of the house that we haven’t really touched since moving here back in May.  I was nervous that I got too much accomplished yesterday and wouldn’t have anything to do for the rest of the week – but then I set up some interviews to volunteer at a few other places, and I’m excited to see what comes of those.

If you are or have been unemployed, how are you maintaining your sanity?  What advice do you have?

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My Pre-furred State of Being

I have spent my entire life wanting to be a veterinarian when I grow up.  I think there was a month or two when I was about thirteen or fourteen when I was really active in my church, and for those two months I considered that maybe I wanted to be a UU minister.  Well, when that month or two was over, I was back to wanting to be a vet.

 

again, me in my Preferred State of Being: covered in dogs

I started working at a local vet clinic when I was fifteen, and never really stopped after that.  In high school I went abroad for six months and obviously could not keep my job while I was on the other side of the world, but no worries!  I found a Clinica Veterinaria where I happily worked every Saturday morning.  When I returned to the states, it was back to work at the hospital, and after not working with animals for one measly semester in college, I never took a break again until my first real-life job.  I decided to take a break from veterinary medicine and try something a little more human oriented.  I thought maybe animals weren’t my thing anymore… after a year and a half of rape crisis work, I went back to the dogs (and cats and rats and bunnies and birds… you get the idea).

 

Me in Chile circa 2002. No, I didn't medically treat these llamas, but I may have tried to hug them.

The big thing that I didn’t do in all of this time was actually finish my classes to apply to vet school.  Every year I have said, “This year I’ll finally take X so that I can get my application in for next fall,” and every year something comes up: I don’t have the time, I don’t have the money, I refuse to skip my honeymoon so I can take the first Organic Chem exam.  Not the worst excuses, but finally I realized something.

I don’t think I want to be a vet.

That said, I do (of course!) still appreciate a face-in-cat situation. Even if the cat is slightly perturbed.

A couple of weeks ago, I was preparing to leave my job at the cat clinic and wondering what would come next.  I put together a list of the things I have loved about all of the veterinary medicine work I have done in the last almost-11 years (seriously, almost 11 years? Crazy!):

  1. Working with people and animals. One or the other doesn’t quite cut it for me.
  2. Troubleshooting with people about their animals, a la, How can we get your cat to take its pill? How can we help you transition a new pet into the house? How can we get your cat more active or your dog more engaged? etc)
  3. Working with the same people over time, and getting to know clients. I love recognizing people when they come in; I love that they know me by name and that I know them well enough to stop and say hello around town.

The thing I realized is that none of this is specific to medicine. So… here goes something else?  Monday was my first day of officially no longer having a full time job.  Of course, I still got up at 6:30, dropped my wife off at the bus, took the dog for a run through the woods, and then went to my volunteer position at a wildlife sanctuary.  As I pulled up to my driveway after all of that, I glanced up and there was a bald eagle flying over our house.

(this is not the actual eagle, but this is what it actually looked like)

I’m seeing hope around every corner.  Here I am, knowing that I’m on the edge of something big, and feeling like I’m waiting for it to materialize in front of me.  I have a petsitting business and a domain name – could I someday expand this to a training/behavior business?  Do I go back to school for something awesome?  Does someone reading this know exactly what all the signs point to?

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Tradition… tradition!

Tonight begins our first Crazy Intense Holiday Celebration Week While Married.  Writing that sentence was sort of overwhelming, and the festivities haven’t even started yet.

Holidays this year are a little funky.  In years past, we have trekked the 30 minutes to my parents’ house and gathered there with my parents and brother (all of whom lived there) and my sister and her boyfriend (who definitely did not live there).  This year, things are a little different, and we are hosting!  Whoa, hello there, Being a Grownup, I think I was entirely unprepared for your arrival.  But sure, pull up a seat and feel free to go through anything in the fridge.  Yes, help yourself.  I can handle you because I am now a Grownup and can make up the rules about what time of day I get to start drinking.

Being a Grownup

Kidding.

Since the arrival of the holidays amidst a fractured family can really emphasize what’s missing, my lovely wife and I decided that we need to embrace some new traditions.  One of them we realized we already have: Solstice.

Solstice is the shortest day of the year, and this year there is also an eclipse.  Exciting!  Last year – and now this year as well – we are staying at the Inn of Wedding Fame, and then tomorrow we will go for our annual walk in the woods.  We exchange a couple of small gifts, spend a lot of time reading in front of the fireplace at the inn, and enjoy a lot of good tea.  It’s nothing fancy, there’s not a lot involved, but it does feel sacred.

The second new tradition?  Ornaments.  Not just the Gayest Snow(wo)man Ornament, which maybe should be a tradition, but this year we begin exchanging ornaments.  Can’t show you anything yet, since it’s still a secret from Turtle, but this is one I’m excited about.

And the tradition we are still struggling to sort out: our birthdays.  Mine is the 27th, hers is the 28th, my dad’s is the 29th, and my brother’s is January 6th.  This does not leave much recovery time.  Quick! Find traditions for EVERY DAY for a WEEK, stat.

New Tradition: Being Covered in Dogs

What are your holiday traditions?  What do you wish they were?  If you’re married, have you made up new ones with your new baby family?

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Stylin’ it up (or not)

Yesterday, my inability to get dressed reached a disastrous peak, resulting in an entire futon covered in clothes that I will probably never wear, my running around the house in a pair of tights, a pair of shoes, and a vest (and that’s it), and a few realizations. Before I tell you about my realizations, please enjoy a glimpse into my morning:

Turtle: Oh. My.
Me (panicking because of her tone… did the cat, who we thought was all better, throw up everywhere?): What?!
Her: You really did explode all over the study.

Point being: I really did cover the ENTIRE FUTON in clothes. Stacked clothes.  It’s impressive, you guys.

Anyway, I gained some general insight into my life in the process. Realization number one: I have a lot of clothes that I just don’t need.  And that don’t fit me or aren’t appropriate for pretty much any situation I need clothes for.

Number two: my style, in its natural, unselfconscious-state, seems to be much dykier than my conscious state often allows it to be. While maybe the dresses that I have do look pretty on me, I feel ridiculous in them.  I feel like I’m playing dress up; I feel sort of silly and floofy and like I’m “faking it,” and at any moment someone will be like, “You! You’re not a real grownup! Go sit at the kids table with your frilly sleeves.” But put on a button down shirt with a sweater over it? Nice.

For example, this dress does look pretty on me! But I felt ridiculous in it. REE-DICULOUS.

But! Look how cute I look in my little vest thing here! So cute! Also, so comfortable.

Number three: I need new clothes. Because apparently it’s not comfortable or really appropriate to wear my wedding suit for every semi- or formal event I go to.  Hence the vague panic last night.  Part of the challenge, though, is that I don’t know what I want, and I don’t know what I need it for.  I could find something I like… but is it for an interview? For hanging out with friends? Can I really justify that purchase?

I feel like I showed up late to the game that all the other kids learned the rules to a lot time ago.  It seems like everyone else can just get dressed and – shazam! – they look good.  And they make it look comfortable and easy.  I, on the other hand, spend an hour and half throwing clothes around the room and end up wearing the only outfit I had in the first place.

my best wedding outfit: shirt untucked, pants rolled up, CHACOS. And the best friend who occasionally helps me clothe myself via Google Chat. Thanks, friend.

I feel stuck.  Where do you get your clothes? Does anyone else have an impossible time getting dressed on a regular basis? And, um, does anyone want to go clothes shopping with me?

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Dearest Crate, I love you so.

I love – love! – Daphne’s crate.  While she came to me with a boatload of issues, probably from having never been actually *walked* on a leash as a puppy, she did come to me crate trained, and while I think the family that ruined her puppyhood kind of sucked (because of how much they fail at her puppyhood), I am so, so grateful that Daphne already liked her crate.

From liking her crate, it didn’t take much to make her love it, and it was the easiest command to teach.  I would put her in there, close the door, and give her treats, and then let her out as soon as she was done.  When I left for work, I put her in the crate and tossed the treats into different corners so that she was too busy looking for deliciousness to notice I was leaving.  When we were hanging out at home I’d toss a treat in the back, say “crate” and repeat.

Sometimes we hang out with her in the crate. Um, everyone does that, right?

Crates tell dogs what they are supposed to be doing; they give dogs a place to feel safe and secure.  Daphne knows that crate time is nap time.  And, because she’s super smart, she knows that she stays in her crate when we leave for work… and every day as we pack up our bags she goes in and looks at us: “Mama, are you going to close the door? It’s time for me to sleep in my crate.”  We don’t have to worry about her getting into the litter boxes or getting bored and chewing on stuff or remembering that I left treats in my vest pocket and getting rid of them for me.  She would probably be fine outside the crate – but why bother? She loves it and we love in.  In fact, when I’m home alone and try to get her to sleep with me… she’ll stick around for about 10 minutes before hopping off the bed and going to sleep in her crate.

Why am I telling you?  Because last night I realized how much I love the crate.  And sad things happened.

See, yesterday morning, one of Turtle’s friends called and needed us to take her dog for a week or two.  We said yes because I love dogs and Turtle wanted to help.  This dog is a 1ish year old chihuahua mixed with insane energy dog, and looks like a miniature Daphne.  He has had almost no training – he can sit about 50-75% of the time when you ask.  So he came over last night and all went well for the first little while.  He played with the dogs, the cats hid; we went for a walk.  And then I put everyone in their crates so we could have some quiet time.

this is sort of what the playing looked like. different puppy, though.

With poor Rascal, crate time does not equal quiet time.  It equals THE LOUDEST TIME THERE EVER WAS.  We moved his crate next to Daph’s, hoping that seeing her be calm and quiet would calm him – instead she started whining and barking, too.  What are we upset about? I don’t know but I am upset too! Let’s tell the world how upset we are! EuLALia!

So then! Then we put him in the study with the lights off and the door closed, all “Hey dog! It’s bed time! Sleeping happens now!”  Well, it got worse.

tired and sad

Long story a little shortened down for you, we ended up driving to meet the friend’s dad at a Dunkin Donuts for a puppy handoff, and we feel awful about it.  I was so excited to be the magical dog trainer who taught the dog to calm down and helped him learn the world is a good place – and Turtle was excited to help her friend in such a big way. But the other side of it is that we live in an apartment, and we can’t have dogs barking all night – not to mention we had been planning on getting some sleep.  The other part of the apartment thing is that we are allowed to have a dog and two cats… not three dogs and two cats.  Sigh.

What is your most valued dog command/trick?  Do you crate train? Have I convinced you to crate train yet? DO IT. Do it. It’s fun.

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The Thrill of the Chaos

Some people enjoy the Thrill of the Hunt or the Thrill of the Chase… it seems, my friends, that I enjoy the Thrill of Being Ridiculously Busy.

though I am capable of relaxing! see??

Since I’m leaving my job in less than two weeks, and I know it might take me a long time to find another job, I decided to start stocking up on money-making activities here and there.  I mentioned I was looking for something extra and a friend called me when her company needed some data entry done; I put up my petsitting cards at a local petstore (guys, I know it’s owned by PetCo, but I love UnLeashed – such a good petstore!) and now I’m walking and doing some positive-reinforcement training with a puppy in town on top of my regular clients; I stopped in at my favorite cookie-only bakery (okay, so there’s only one of those I know of, but it would be my favorite even if it wasn’t the only one) to buy cookies and on a whim asked if they were hiring – now I’m working there a few hours a week.

sky's the limit on insanity!

So I’m basically working four jobs through Christmas, and yes, I am a little bit stressed out, but also – I feel SO GOOD.  Every free moment is a moment I could do something with.  Quick! I have five minutes while the water boils for tea! Time to make that Christmas ornament I’ve been putting off! Okay, here’s another ten minutes before I have to leave: I’ll put tape on the windows and put the plastic up in a few days when I have fifteen minutes to spare.  I am getting an absolute thrill from being so damn busy.

At the end of the day, I am exhausted and usually either asleep or incredibly grumpy (sorry Wife!) by 9:30 at night, but I also feel so productive.  Maybe I don’t have a Thing, but maybe my Thing is trying to keep my head up without losing my shit.  In a good way.

It's all a delicate balance, sort of like a giant chess game. Like THIS giant chess game.

Are you someone who prefers to be busy than, you know, relaxed?  What do you do when you have too much time on your hands?  Does anyone besides somewhat crazy me ever actually feel like they have too much time on their hands?

Happy Tuesday, everyone!  Hopefully my posts don’t start sounding a little manic as these jobs pick up… please tell me if they do.  Or just sit in the corner being quietly entertained by me, and occasionally check in with my wife to make sure she’s doing alright.

*All photos from our Awesome  Honeymoon, which I may or may not someday get around to telling you about.  Er, about which I may or may not someday getting around to telling you. Yeah.

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