Life has been a literal whirlwind lately, with a lot of challenges thrown at me almost simultaneously. I like to think that somehow I am more equipped to deal with those challenges now, whether that is true or not. The past few days tested me more than a little bit, pushed me literally to emotional limits that also affected me physically. That wasn’t unusual during the course of my marriage, but my response to the current challenges has me proud.
Last week started with a work trip to Florida, responsibilities a bit out of my comfort zone as those responsibilities required me to lead training seminars for a customer with enormous potential. While I found that I am more than capable and performed very well, my normally adequate ego was feeling the shrink caused by the cold reality that I am self trained. I felt inadequate going in to the trip, made me overcompensate a bit to the point of being over prepared. The salesman I accompanied gave me high marks to my boss, something that was shared with my tired soul when I returned to the office last Thursday.
Yes, the innuendo is intentional. 🙂
Tired was the word, but not too much. I had tried to save my company money by taking the red eye flight home to Chicago from Tampa, a $97 flight, arrived home after midnight. I still arrived to work at my normal 8:30 AM start time, beat both of my coworkers in.
Yes, the adequate ego is still adequate.
The challenges started last Friday, when I received a call from the internet and cable TV provider that shall remain unnamed. I think they are getting too big for their britches. The caller informed me that my promotional rate was about to expire. What promotional rate?, I inquired, I didn’t sign a promotional contract. I was informed that 24 months, I did get a promotional rate that is going to expire in a month. If I didn’t sign up for another plan, my monthly rate would be roughly $280. SAY WHAT?!!!!? All I can say is, that’s a crappy sales pitch. I asked the salesman to send me the options via email and I would consider each one, then make a decision. He had called me while I am at work, after all, and right in the middle of preparing a rush quote. That wasn’t possible, he told me, it had to be done over the phone and at that moment. If not, they would call me back at a more convenient time, but nothing could be done by email. I wasn’t kind to the guy (no acid, just firm), didn’t cut him any slack, told him that I don’t do anything over the phone. Why not just give me the same plan, at the same rate, and be done with it. Was that possible? No. The guy wouldn’t budge, but he was also getting frustrated with me… and hung up.
Yes, that’s how my weekend started.
Friday therapy night was great, as usual. My friend John was back from his vacation travels, raring to go after signing up for an online dating site. Jim and I spent a good deal of the evening helping him with his profile message and picture choices, even enlisted the aid of Jim’s girlfriend (via text) for the profile. There was a joke that one woman on the site rejected and didn’t respond at all to Jim when he was using the site, and Jim would pay for their first date if John got her to respond. “We” sent her a message — and SHE RESPONDED. They are planning to meet this weekend, are hitting it off. John is off and running. Jim is annoyed — he’s not used to rejection.
Saturday was nice weather, low 50 degree temperatures, which means I rode the trails in shorts. Woooohoooooo! I finished my ride, loaded the bike up on the car, got in and checked my phone. Uh oh. A message from my ex that simply said call me as soon as you can. Another message from my accountant, who is doing my taxes, an ominous message about not having enough withholding that looked scary. I called my ex and found out that our son had a car accident, was OK, but his car was likely totaled.
I hustled home, as I needed to not only prepare for a 5 o’clock meeting with friends and I also had to walk the cute little 3 month old female chow puppy that my brother had dropped off earlier in the day. I was going to be dog sitting in my second floor condo for five days. I made it home, walked the puppy, played with her a bit, cleaned up and left to meet my friends. We went to a bonfire later on, had a grand time. It was a great evening. I came home fairly early, around 10:30 PM, to find…. uh oh.
Yes, uh oh.
Chows are very strong dogs, even as three month old puppies. While I was gone, she decided that maybe I or someone else was on the other side of the heavy sliding wooden door that I had closed to keep her in my little galley kitchen. She slammed into the closed door, likely multiple times, and knocked it out of track. When I walked through my front door at 10:30, she greeted me at the front door. The bottom of the door was extended out at least two feet. Oh no.
Yes, OH NO!
My crazy downstairs neighbor must have been freaking out all evening from the noise of the dog. Sure enough, the sound of my footsteps must have cued my neighbor of my arrival, because her patio light went on immediately and I could see her pacing out in front of her patio. Moments later, I was treated to the sound of a Polish woman screeching loudly up at me. I guarantee she was waiting for the drama, as she had observed me walking the puppy earlier that day. I had also seen her husband in the hallway, where he asked me if I had a new dog and I told him that I was just dog sitting.
Yes, just dog sitting. It was completely obvious very soon that did not matter.
Chows are darling, especially three month old puppies. Chows are endearing. Chows bond quickly and are very loving. I was immediately Chloe’s best buddy.. and she would not leave me alone. Chows are also very aggressive, which combined with their strength and intelligence makes them excellent guard dogs. Note that in the picture I was sitting on the floor. That worked better with her, because otherwise she would have demanded my attention.
Yes, that’s a black tongue. Isn’t she adorable? The short snout also causes her to snort.
I tried to leave for church, abandoned the closed kitchen door strategy, gave her a long leash and tied her to the kitchen table. Chloe was barking before I even came close to the front door, and loudly. Arrrrrggggghhhhh. Teresa the Terrible, my neighbor, was already freaking out. I left any way, hoped that the barking would cease shortly after I left. Alas, I could hear barking as I walked outside through the courtyard and from my car. I drove a few miles, the stress starting to rise and my better judgement telling me that I had better go back home. I did. She was still barking.
Yes, so was my downstairs neighbor, although her bark is a frantically anxious shriek.
I could hear her through her door as I walked up the stairs to my unit. With each shriek, I could feel my blood pressure rising, something I have not felt in years. Barking greeted me as I walked through my front door. Nearly defeated, I released Chloe from her leash and hugged her as I sat on the floor with her. She ate that up, little licks and nibbles demonstrating her enthusiastic affection for me. What could I do about the situation? I was beginning to feel trapped. Not wanting to be held captive by my furry guest, craving the calm of a church worship service, I decided to risk letting her have the run of my small house. Maybe she wouldn’t be so anxious, maybe she wouldn’t destroy anything from anxiety? Cautiously, I walked out the front door. She wanted to run out with me, but I stopped her, frowned as she whimpered at me. I closed the door, walked slowly down the stairs as I listened for barking, hearing a loud whining whimper but no barking. Maybe this was going to work? I stopped at the landing, listened some more, hopeful I would be able to leave.
Yes, I was too hopeful.
As I stood on the landing, listening to the quiet whimper of the puppy from my condo unit above, a sudden loud commotion emerged as my neighbor loudly barged through her front door. Complaints of he and that dog were making loud noise all last night, as well as I am getting sick of him nearly bowled me over as my neighbor angrily emerged while shrieking back at her husband, only to see me and zip back inside her condo as she slammed her door behind her. The commotion continued on the other side of the door.
Yes, it was obvious she was destined for my front door.
It was also painfully obvious that I couldn’t keep this puppy, even for the few days I was supposed to dog sit. Defeated, I trudged back upstairs to my home, greeted by a happy furball. I looked down at her, apologized with the tears beginning to form. What could I do? My brother in his family were hours away, enjoying the sites in Washington, DC. No way was I going to be able to leave this dog alone. The next day and the days to follow until my brother would get home, I knew there was no way I could go to work — and I had to go to work as my boss was going to be travelling. With dread, I texted my brother, asked him if it was possible to put Chloe in a kennel. I knew the answer to that. This puppy is only three months old, so she hasn’t had the shots required to board her.
My brother tried to find a kennel, but confirmed what I already knew, that she could not be boarded. He called and apologized, assured me that he understands my situation. Go ahead and load her up, drive south towards central Illinois, where our brother and our father live. He would contact them and ask them to meet me halfway, take the dog from me. This was something he knew might happen, that the dog would make too much noise and possibly become destructive. It just looked like it wouldn’t happen. The kitchen door should have been adequate to contain her and keep her calm.
I loaded her stuff in my car, put her in the back seat and began the drive south, not knowing if either my other brother or my father would be able to meet me. The stress was really beginning to affect my blood pressure, the dizziness of elevated blood pressure starting to show up. It didn’t help that the puppy wouldn’t stay in the back seat. I tried letting her have the passenger seat next to me, but she wanted to be in my lap. She also was getting anxious, her snorts increasing, my own anxiety increasing as I tried to deal with driving and her persistence. Eventually, my dad called and just in time. My blood pressure had elevated so much that I could barely breathe, much less drive. He was worried, told me to turn around, go home and he would pick her up at my place. I bought a bottle of water, sipped it as I drove carefully home, downed an extra dose of my blood pressure meds when I got home — which worked but really threw me into a loop.
Yes, I survived the day.
Monday was a new day — and an extremely busy day. After lunch, I had to deal simultaneously with the insurance company calling about my son’s accident claim, my accountant wanting to talk about my tax return, my son calling about my accident,.. and another friend who wanted me to dog sit for him! I survived, but had to deal with several items of bad news at once. Over $4000 owed to federal taxes due to a withholding error, my son’s car totaled and too expensive to fix (liability insurance only). I could only shrug my shoulders. I can make it through this as I have many times before, said a prayer (which calmed me), then sat down to catch my breath and focus on the many blessings. That helped me to see that it’s not so bad.
A friend came over that evening to share dinner with me, brought relaxation and calm back to me. Calm and slightly warm weather has allowed me to ride, and ride quite well I must add, the last two evenings. All is well.
Yes, all is well.