Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Doggy Doo Part Deux

Well, it looks as if my T-Bone doo doo days are long gone. The day after my last "Dog Doo" post, my neighbor hammered a hand-written "For Sale" sign in his front yard. Then three days later, some shady looking guys in a nice pick-up truck/trailer combination arrived. They began loading up everything of value, and when my husband casually strolled over to fish for information, the two walked quickly back into the house. Neither my neighbor nor his kids mentioned a move was in the works - and believe me, his kids tell all unsolicited. So my husband and I aren't quite sure if the house was foreclosed on or if my neighbor elected to give up his earthly possessions rather than get his kneecaps shattered by a "Gambling" debt collector.


Anyway, T-Bone will just have to settle for pooping in his owner's yard. That, or the "upscale" neighbors that live next to T's owner are going to have a surprise in their front lawn tomorrow.

Friday, February 11, 2005


If you've seen the movie The Sixth Sense, then you may remember the scene where the boy, Cole, has a visit with a dead girl's ghost in the makeshift tent in his room. The girl, who we later learn died by ingesting one too many "Drano" cocktails, proceeds to puke all over herself, and then calmly states, "I feel much better now." Her purge experience and comment basically sums up how I felt before and after writing my last post. Sometimes I get in a funk and take life much too seriously, and thankfully my family has a funny way of pulling me back into reality...take JG's barfing episode last night, for example.

I should have known that all was not well when my three-year-old daughter went to bed last night without much fuss. I wasn't surprised in the least to find her in bed with us at 3:00 AM either since bad dreams and strange sounds will often lead her to seek refuge in our room. But what is strange about the entire episode is how I sensed that something bad was about to happen.

I was having a terrible nightmare about my oldest daughter when I woke up suddenly in the middle of the night. She has had a terrible cough the past week, and I was beginning to wonder if the cold had turned into something much more serious - like a pneumonia. In my dream, KS was barely breathing, so I took her to the doctor's office where they began administering breathing treatments immediately. I was really scared that I might loose her. Next thing I know, KS starts puking in my dream. Because I am really phobic about "puke" in general - I haven't barfed since 1978, and that's no lie - I immediately woke myself up.

When I woke up, I realized that little JG was cuddling up to me, and I was happy to have a kid there to hug to bring me back to reality. She seemed to be in a deep sleep, so I rolled over and started to fall back asleep. Next thing I know, I instinctively jumped out of bed. Almost immediately, JG began a solo version of the "barf-o-rama." My husband, a very deep sleeper, half way woke up to the episode and kept asking, "What's going on," with his eyes half shut. "JG is puking all over," I said with intensity. In the mean time I was trying to gather every towel in proximity to help contain the mess.

Since I have this puking phobia, my husband and I generally have an understanding that he takes care of all barfing children. But next week he is going away on a business trip to a third-world country, and a stomach virus is the last thing a person wants to deal with away from home. Clearly I would have to step up to the plate.

To make a long story short, I spent the next five hours cleaning up puke while I frantically attempted to kill and lingering puke causing bacterial in my house. Everything was washed, wiped down, and sprayed. I am amazed that the rest of the family pretty much slept through the frenzy.

What amazes me more was the fact that I pretty much remained calm through the whole thing. In the past, if I even thought someone near me might puke, I ran and hid. This time I didn't do that. In fact, I didn't feel panicky at all.

Even more strange than that was how I instinctively new that barf was coming. I seriously think I have "barfdar." It's like the phenomena that happened with the animals when the recent tsunami approached parts of Thailand. The animals fled to higher ground because they felt that something bad was about to happen. I'm not sure if my "barfdar" is a God given trait or it is something I've developed over the years. Although I know I have a heightened sense of perception, keep in mind that JG was in a deep sleep before this all happened.

What ever it is, I'm thankful for it. I managed to get through the entire episode without being puked on. Thankfully, JG is feeling much better now, and I can only hope that my preventative sanitizing will eliminate the need for me to use my barfdar again in the next few days.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

The B+ Life

I was taken aback when I turned thirty and only had a husband, three daughters, and a few close friends to show for it. Don't get me wrong - I love my family and friends. They make me feel like I have worth, and that is more than most can say. In fact, I know that I am downright blessed to have each in my life - it's much more than I deserve, really. I have no regrets. But putting family and friends aside, I simply thought that I would have accomplished more in three decades.

The weight of this reality became terribly apparent when I read an newspaper interview with a fourteen-year-old from Portland who had just celebrated her second week being number one on the best sellers list. "Yikes," I thought, "what am I doing with my life?!" In the interview, she talked about how she wrote this novel with ease; it was mostly autobiographical after all. What floored me - what literally took my breath away, however, was a comment the young novelist made as a mere afterthought. She said that she wanted to do something with her life because she didn't want to get to the old age of thirty and realize that all she had been was basically a B+ student.

At that moment I knew that comment perfectly described my life. It's a good life - a really, really good life. Better than average. But it still only scores a B+. That's a hard truth to swallow.

What's even more difficult to choke down is the fact that my life is exactly what I've made it.

First, there was the music album I never recorded. I love music, and I love to sing. I've been performing one way or another since I was about ten. My only vocal training came in the form of voice lessons when I went to college. Even so, I thought I could belt out a tune before I had that training.

Come to find out that I am an above average singer, but I'm not spectacular. Once a person looses the ability to wear sexy belly button showing half shirts and low rise jeans, it takes "spectacular" to get that album recorded. The older I get, the more I realize that there are a ton of above average singers out there too. And after I laid down some back ground vocal tracks for my husband, I discovered recording vocals is very hard work. Very, very hard work.

The truth is, recording an album isn't as important to me as it used to be. So I've basically abandoned that dream with little to no regrets - but watching a long held dream swirl around and finally flush down into oblivion was still difficult.

Then there was the soccer career I never had. When I graduated from high school, I seriously planned on joining the men's soccer team at my college since there was no women's soccer team. Crazy, but true. Of course when the team got wind of it, well...let's just say the idea wasn't embraced as I had hoped it would be. Granted - this was a small private school in the mid-west, and their ideas of a "woman's place" were a little archaic to say the least. Nevertheless, I decided to join the cheerleading squad instead - which makes me laugh out loud to look back on those cheerleading days. What kind of athlete gives up the sport to shout from the sidelines? An athlete who is above average but not spectacular does.

I did get a chance to play on some recreational co-ed teams years later - those are some fun memories. I coached for several years too. But now that I see the leagues for major league women's teams disband, I realize that my chance to be a competitive player is over. It's just as well since having four children has taken it's toll on me physically. I'm not as fast or agile as I used to be.

Finally, my dreams of being a famous writer never came to fruition. Sure - tons of writers say to themselves, "Some day I will write the next great American novel." The difference is that I seriously thought I would. I thought I would be well into my writing career by age thirty.

Way back when, I remember how I first voiced that dream. I told my college writing teacher, " I want to write a novel some day," and he didn't respond to that comment. I should have taken a hint then; what he was silently saying was that I was only a good writer. Not spectacular, not great, not talented, not creative, but good. The more I've studied great writers, the more I've realized my deficiencies as a writer as well. Also, great writers get published. Good writers pay to get their work published. I don't have that kind of money to waste.

I'm not quite ready to give that dream up yet, however. Honestly, when the time comes for me to accept the fact that I won't be the famous writer I always dreamed I would be, that truth will die hard. I just don't think that my ego could take that blow right now. Also, I'm living on the hope that I might be the next Toni Morrison since she published her first novel at age thirty-eight. So I'm saying there's a chance...

I could make excuses for why I chose the path I took. I could say that schooling and earning money and having a family got in the way of my career, my dreams. But all of those things make up the "me" I am today, so, again, I have no regrets.

Which brings me to my point: I've finally decided to embrace "what is" instead of lament all that wasn't. I own up to the fact that I keep a lot of plates spinning, and it's inevitable that one or two or five will drop eventually. But that doesn't mean all fifty-seven plates need to fall and shatter at my feet. Not all at once, anyway.

I admit that my house is a little disorganized - that's a nice way of saying that it's messy. I admit that my children sometimes run amok. But they are happy. I may never be able to wear a two-piece bathing suit again without being offensive. So what. So what if I have a B+ life. One thing is for certain is this: I have the best damn B+ life of anyone I know. And really, that is spectacular defined.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Doggy Doo

This morning was a great morning for my family. Well, it was great for everyone except my nine–year-old daughter, that is. Her morning turned out to be really stinky. Headed for school, she was on her way out to the car this morning when her foot encountered a big pile of poo. Of course she didn’t see the poo until she stepped in it. Great. Not only was she wearing her brand new white tennis shoes, but she didn’t have anything handy to get said poo out of the nooks and crannies of her shoe. My helpful husband suggested, “You can just wipe it off with a piece of paper when you get to school.” Apparently, not wanting to be late for school, she heeded his advice. Problem solved.

But my stink isn’t really with my husband for not making her change her shoes or with the dog who is getting old and whose aim is a little off – the poo landed on the driveway instead of in the dirt. My stink isn’t even with the dog’s true owner, my neighbor’s mother. My stink is with my neighbor who keeps insisting on taking the dog with him everywhere he goes.

The dog, an elderly Rottweiler named T-Bone, is supposedly a very gentle dog. Not that I would know that from experience because every time I see “T,” she is either pooping in my yard or growling at my children from the doorstep of my neighbor’s house. But the dog’s owner, my neighbor’s mother, says so, so I guess I should take her at her word. After all, “T” hasn’t bitten any of her grandchildren or her grandchildren’s playmates (that would be my children) – well “T” hasn’t eaten them yet anyway.

What gets my goat is that I asked the owner of the dog to keep “T” at home. Frankly, I was getting tired of cleaning up doggy diarrhea from my front lawn – and from my house since all the neighborhood children play in my front yard, step in the poo, and then track the stuff into my house. Also, the growling was beginning to make me nervous. Very apologetic, the owner graciously agreed to keep “T” home. Of course her son, my neighbor, kept bringing the dog to his house. So the pooping in my yard never stopped.

Finally, out of frustration, I began calling the owner whenever nature called for “T” in my front lawn. A few times she came and scooped the stuff up, but with her dog visiting my lawn every day, naturally there were a few missed deposits. And some deposits weren’t discovered until it was too late – as was the case this morning.

So why am I fed up with my neighbor instead of with the dog’s rightful owner? Because, frankly, I think it’s time for the guy to grow up and take some responsibility. I guess I should feel some level of compassion for the out-of-work-because-he-keeps-getting-fired, middle-aged-divorcee, ready-to-loose-his-kids-in-a-nasty-custody-battle, gambling-addict guy suffering from depression. And I do. I’ve watched his kids on several occasions even though he says he will be back in an hour and he returns in five hours. I’ve given a listening ear regarding the custody mess. I’ve even offered advice when it was requested. I’ve picked his children up from school, and I’ve welcomed his children into my home. Then recently his mother told me that she tried to keep the dog at home, but her son insists on picking “T” up and taking the dog to his house because “T” will keep away any would be burglars – and that makes him feel safe.

Now if we lived in a crime-ridden neighborhood, I would be able to understand that logic. The fact is, my neighbor doesn’t do anything to discourage would be thieves in the first place. For example, he never puts his kids’s expensive bikes and scooters away. Not one of those items has ever been stolen in the last year though any stupid crook could simply drive by once a week and see that the gear was ripe for the taking. That combined with the fact that the garage door to his house is left wide open – even at night whether he is home or away – five out of seven days a week, you would think that a burglar would get a clue that this home is an easy target. Fortunately for my neighbor, we just don’t live in that kind of neighborhood. Which leads me to believe that my neighbor has some ulterior motive for wanting the dog around.

Nevertheless, his need for companionship does not override my need for a doggy doo free lawn. The question is, will I do anything about it? Of course not. I’ll just keep enabling him like every other sorry sap surrounding him does. But at least I’ve got my gripe out in the open. Now I’ll be going out to my lawn and shoveling poo, thank you, and this afternoon I'll be cleaning the bottom of someone's shoes.