Tag Archives: overwhelmed

Reflections on a year I was grateful to see go

Well, hello, there!  I said I’d be back in the new year, and here I am.  I missed you!  But I also spent the last couple of weeks masquerading as a slightly insane petsitter.  Slightly insane only because I think sane petsitters occasionally say no to jobs so that they can occasionally care for their own pets; I, on the other hand, had up to 13 jobs in one day.  Thank you a billion times over to my beautiful wife for taking care of our own beasts!

I both love and hate year-in-reviews; sometimes I find it really boring to read about other people’s years, but really, if you find this boring? Skip it.  Because when it’s not boring it’s really interesting, so I’m banking on everyone loving my version of a year in review.  It’s a bit more of a reflection than review, but that’s what you get. Ready? Let’s go.

Our 2010 year started off with us screwing up a dinner party.  Seriously.  We thought we were being invited to just a “let’s all hang out, it’ll be fun!” party and we showed up 2 hours after it started.  Um, fashionably late for a regular old party, right? Yeah, well, as I mentioned – it was a dinner party.  Being 2 hours late is very, very bad.

I tell you this because, in retrospect, it seems like an appropriate beginning to the year that 2010 was.

In 2010, we had in our lives or in the lives of people we’re very close to a birth, a death, jobs lost, new jobs started, a separation, a wedding, we moved, we got a kitten, we lost our kitten, and we each turned another year older.  That last part is just how things work.  Other notable things: I started blogging, I started classes, I dropped classes, I got rejected by roller derby (twice!), our dog bit someone, I changed my life plan, we changed our last name, we merged our finances, and – yes, I already mentioned the wedding, but it feels worth mentioning again – we’re married now.

yes, I know you've seen this picture before... but it is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITES. So here it is again. Enjoy, because it's beautiful.

What I mean to say is that 2010 was a really big year, and I am really grateful that it’s over.  When the clock struck midnight and our little group of friends yelled “Happy New Year!” I felt this sudden and huge wave of relief.  Really, that’s sort of silly: who knows what 2011 brings?  Maybe more stressors, different stressors.  But I find a lot of hope in this: we made it through this last year, and we did a really good job.  The chances of all of these things happening in the same year again are probably not very high, but, regardless, I know we can handle it.

Being engaged and then married has been an enormous blessing throughout all of this.  When things get hard, I know that there’s someone by my side, someone on my team; even when we’re having a rough time in our relationship, we’re in it for the long haul.

So here’s to 2011, with hope that it is full of love and new beginnings and is only somewhat eventful.  Happy New Year, you guys.

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Filed under Marriage/Wedding/Engagement, other, Relationships

The End/I’m always covered in fur

So my last day of work was last Friday and for some reason I expected some downtime.  Did I already talk about this?  It’s all sort of a whirlwind of craziness.  The plus side is that I do need to eat but I don’t have time to shop, so tonight I threw a bunch of ingredients we had around the house (canned beans, frozen veggies, soy “hamburger”, some herbs) into our slow cooker and things smell delicious.  Sadly, it still needs another 20 minutes to cook slowly, so I thought I’d pop in and say Hello! I’m not missing!  I am just, once again, terribly (wonderfully?) covered in other people’s cats.

us, covered in our own animals. I promise these are our only cats. We are not crazy cat ladies... though I think becoming a crazy dog lady is not a bad goal.

Also sadly, it seems that this trend of being covered in other people’s pets (or feeding and cleaning up after other people’s pets) will continue for the rest of 2010, and I am not going to have the time I would like to dedicate to thoughtful blogging.  Lucky for me, many of you have time off of work and so will not be hoping my blog has new content so that you can procrastinate.

So, my friends, here’s to the new year a few days early!  Thank you to my faithful readers; even though I don’t know who most of you are, I appreciate knowing that you’re out there reading.  And thank you to the regular commenters for helping me feel like I’m saying something worth saying.  Lastly, thank you to those of you who have approached me in person or emailed to say you like what’s happening over here: it always seems to come when I need it most.  You all make this worth doing.

Happy New Year!  And Merry Christmas, if that’s your thing, and also happy birthday to me, my wife, and my dad.  See you next year!  No, seriously, I’ll be back in full swing 1/1/11.  Hooray!

Cheers,

Bird

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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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Filed under Menagerie, Vet school

The Short Version

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I’m really busy, and I’m really enjoying being really busy.  That said, it’s sort of a fuzzy gray area between, “Whee! Really busy is fun and exhilarating! I love puppies and kitties and cookies and I’m so busy I don’t even notice the huge mess that has taken over our house!” and “AHH NOTHING WILL EVER GET DONE.”  The first one should be said like I’m the simple dog, and the second like I’m the helper dog.

(click image for source)

The exciting thing that’s happening is that I am figuring out, slowly but surely, what I want to do with my life and where to direct my time and energy once this over-employed insanity becomes under-employed insanity.  I’m feeling hopeful and inspired, but I still don’t have the answers I want.  It’s a process, I suppose.

In the meantime, I started blogging every day for NaBloPoMo, and I haven’t really stopped.  It’s sort of like exercising: sometimes it’s hard to just do it, but the endorphins make it worth it.  And by endorphins, I mean comments and emails that you guys send me… thanks for all your support and awesomeoness.  BUT! The helper dog in me has decided that getting up early or staying up late to write is not necessarily healthy anymore, so I’m cutting back – no more weekend posts.

I don’t know if you all have seen Avenue Q – if you haven’t, do it! Go see it! It’s like Rent but with puppets. And funnier. – but there’s a song that’s been going through my head, with slightly modified lyrics:

My version goes, “It’s a fine, fine line between insanity and alive…”

Finally, goats! Because it’s Thursday, and that means it’s almost Friday.  Hooray!

best. honeymoon. ever.

What are you doing this weekend?  Where is your happy place?  Will you still be here when regular Bird who has slept a regular amount on a regular basis comes back?  Please say yes.

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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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Filed under Home, other, Relationships

Fixing Everything for Everyone… or Not.

If you read any blogs besides this one, you’ve probably noticed the Reverb10 trend.  Basically, it’s a daily prompt to help us “reflect on your year and manifest what’s next.”  Quite frankly, the prompts have not inspired me much: I don’t really have or care to have one word that describes this or next year; I don’t want to narrow “feeling alive” down to one moment.  But this morning I have a lot to do, like finally put plastic over the windows and finish making an ornament I’ve been working on for a week, and, being who I am, this means I am doing pretty much everything other than those things. Like checking out reverb10.

Today’s prompt struck me, because I really do have an answer to it, and it’s an answer I’ve been putting a lot of energy into.

Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

Letting go: look, Ma, no hands!

I’ve spent a lot of time in my life trying to make things better for other people.  It’s my goal at work: improve their experience (“Sorry for the wait, help yourself to coffee and tea! Oh, your cat is SO CUTE, cutest cat ever!”), validate their feelings (“Only you know what’s best for your cat, you’re making the best decision…”); I did similar work at the rape crisis center, and that’s the important part of the work I do now.  But it extends beyond that, and it got bigger in the context of planning our wedding.  It became “Our wedding is important for everyone, not just us, and it has to be perfect!” Always in the back of my mind was “we have to make this look like a *real* wedding so that my family who may not be supportive of my Gay Wedding will still see that it’s a Real Wedding.”

a real(ly heavy) wedding dress, totally inappropriate for wearing in a canoe

Over the course of all of it, I realized that the wedding is about other people in a lot of ways, but it is also more about us.  It is about us becoming our own family, and it is about planning something really big together for the first time. In the end, it did look like a Real Wedding (and it was a real wedding!), but each element had been picked out because it was meaningful for us, not because we thought it would look good to other people.

What I’ve started to let go of this year is trying to live my life for other people.  I am realizing that I can love and support other people, but that I have to be more honest with myself and in my relationship.  This is not a Veruca Salt declaration; it is not all about me.  But my life is also not about everyone else, and that is what I am letting go of.

My family has been going through some tough stuff recently, and I have been trying my best to be there for everyone all the time, to be strong and supportive and assure everyone that everything is fine.  And then yesterday I was walking with Turtle, and something just sort of clicked. I said, “You know, as much as I want to fix everything for everyone, I can’t fix it, and it’s not my job to fix it.  It’s my job to be here and let them know that I love them, and let them know that I am here for them.”  And she agreed that I am doing that job pretty damn well.  It doesn’t stop my desire to fix the world, but it makes it a little easier to accept when I can’t.

my closest, awesomest support system: sister and wife

Forget whether or not you’re doing this reverb10 thing: is there something that you’re letting go of or trying to change in yourself?  And if you hate that question, here’s another for you: how do you find the boundaries between being supportive and taking care of your self?

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