My Brave Little Toaster

All too often, passersby look at my 65+ pound dog straining at her leash and move a little farther away. This irritates me. Just because she’s bigger than a teacup poodle means nothing. Ask your neighborhood veterinarian and I’m sure they will tell you what I have heard so many times – that they are more wary of the little ones than the big ones, because the little ones are more likely to bite. The big ones usually cower in a corner like terrified children.

Make no mistake, if you were to sneak up on me or her in a threatening manner, she would make you step back a few paces and fear for your extremities, but otherwise, on a regular day with regular people, she’s nothing to be afraid of. In fact, she’s likely more afraid of you than you are of her.

So here are a few anecdotes to show why, if you pass me innocently on the street, my “big dog”* should be the least of your worries.

1. The other night she woke every dog in the neighborhood barking at a plastic grocery bag that blew across her path.

2. Today it took her five whole minutes to approach a threatening pile of carpet pads stacked in the neighbor’s carport that wasn’t there last night. And she approached in a wide circle from behind the nearest tree, just in case.

3. She makes friends easily with both dogs and people, but in St. Kitts she was approached by a friendly Jack Russell terrier and she curled up into a ball and shivered until he left her alone.

4. She’s afraid of thunder and wants to sleep with me when it storms at night. She’s also scared of small children and either runs away from them or hides behind my legs when they approach.

5. She’s so nervous of new, unexpected things and places that when I open the door to our back deck on pretty days, she not only won’t go out onto the deck, but she won’t even lie down in that half of the living room.

6. Last week we met a new neighbor. Meera took off toward her at full speed, having never seen her before in her life, and rubbed up against her legs like a cat begging to be petted.

7. She plays like a child. She wants to “tag” you and run away so you’ll chase her. She wants to put her head into whatever you’re doing and be “super-involved” in the process. She wants to hide your tools so you have to find them. She wants to pounce on things that look like balls, are shaped like balls, bounce like balls or are in the vicinity if you’ve said the word “ball.”

8. When you pass by and she’s straining at her leash, chances are she just wants to smell your hands and have you pet her. She loves people and she loves you, until you give her a reason not to.

There’s a reason I call her my brave little toaster.

And did I mention she’s part pit bull? But that’s for a whole other blog post.

So thank you to my landlord for being the only one in Martin to understand that a dog is a dog, no matter the size, and all should be allowed to live in peace with their people in whatever accommodations they have.

*70 pounds is medium-sized for a dog, by the way. You should see a bull-mastiff, weighing in at 150 pounds, and then we’ll talk.

Look at that goofy face!!

Look at that goofy face!!

Freedom and the Open Road

I drove myself to work today!

Why is that such a big deal, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. Since we came back from the island we’ve had one car between us – which isn’t the end of the world, of course, but it does require some interesting scheduling when both of us have work/school at different times of the day and night. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a wonderful coworker who lives out our way and has been willing to take me home on the nights that I would otherwise have been waiting in the office long after the building had closed. But we couldn’t just do that forever.

We are incredibly blessed to have good families who help us through rough times, and I inherited (on loan) a car this past weekend from my great-grandmother who has given up driving. It’s older than I am, but hey! It has wheels and an engine and it gets the mister where he needs to go without us having to go everywhere together! (And any married person knows you can’t do EVERYTHING together…)

I can go to the post office on my lunch break. I can go to Wal-Mart after work. I can go to Wal-Mart after work by myself! (I prefer to do my shopping alone.) Martin’s not a very big place, but I can go wherever I want to and I’m LOVING it!

And, in other news, every single article on the UT Martin homepage was written by me, so that makes me feel important for the day. #UTMAdvantage

That is all. Happy Thursday. 🙂

/the missus

Quirks and Queertrons*

Wednesday seems to be unintentionally becoming my regular post day. Maybe if I made Friday my target post day I would actually get them up on Mondays. Lol.

I’ve finally gotten our apartment mostly organized and somewhat decorated, so I am happy with where we are for the moment. While we like the coziness of the place and the way it holds heat (thank goodness), it does have a few quirks that we’ve had to get used to, but I suppose every place does. Here are a few of ours:

  • The vent in the bathroom makes a loud crackling noise every time you open or close the door, so I always think something’s moving around in the house that shouldn’t be.
  • The floorboards creak, especially in the hallway, and I think they must be linked to the apartment next door because sometimes they creak when nobody’s walking on them.
  • The hot and cold faucet knobs in the kitchen are backwards, so the hot water is on the right and the cold is on the left, when they are normally the other way around. I burned myself several times before getting the hang of that. (Our water comes out HOT!)
  • The refrigerator tends to freeze things, even after we turned it down.
  • The stove makes a steaming noise like when water droplets hit the heating element… even when the stove is not on.
  • The utensil drawer in the kitchen doesn’t have a metal runner-thing on the bottom, so when you pull it out you have to hold it level because if you let go it will flip down and crash against the counter frame… and that’s if it doesn’t go completely into the floor.
  • When you run the microwave, the lamps in the living room flicker. If you run the microwave for more than three minutes at a time (say, for a baked potato), it blows a fuse and you have to turn everything back on at the breaker.
  • If the front door isn’t bolted, it moves whenever someone opens the stairway door and the pressure changes. This bothers Meera. A lot.

Ya gotta love it though. There’s nothing like having our own place again, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. 🙂

[*Queertronnoun: An unexplainable force that causes strange things to happen without provocation or reason.]

Adult Life 101 – “Benefits”

I graduated from high school and then from college under the impression that I had been prepared for life and the challenges it held.

Somebody lied to me.

Ever since I started this new job, I have realized more and more with every trip to the human resources office (which is doing a wonderful job of putting up with me, by the way) that I understand very little about living in this world. There was no class on understanding insurance benefits; no college credit given for knowing how to set up a retirement fund. I can analyze 16th-century literature in 10+ pages of flawless MLA style in less than four hours; I can write a front-page breaking news report that brings my boss to tears; I can create basic page layout and generate a five-page newsletter in a single day; but I don’t know the first thing about paycheck deductions and how to manage them and where they go and how they are supposed to benefit me.

I always thought you earned money, you paid taxes automatically and then you took the rest home with you to pay bills and buy groceries. Apparently, that’s not how it works.

The benefits coordinator in human resources is very nice and tries very hard to help me understand, but every pamphlet she gives me only makes me feel dumber and less like I can handle anything on my own. At this moment, I am emailing her about how to opt-out of all this additional optional stuff the UT retirement plan takes from my paycheck, because I have been all over this website and it looks nothing like what makes sense to me. If they’re going to take a mandatory amount each month, I don’t want to have to give up any more. Yes, I’m all for saving for retirement, but I’d like to set it aside myself depending on current circumstances, rather than having a set percentage removed before I even see it. And I’m not even completely sure that’s what happens… that’s what I thought she explained to me before… but judging by this new conversation I’m not so sure… so I have no idea. None at all. Not the tiniest wisp of a thought bubble.

Like I said, there was no college course on this. There should have been — “Adult Life 101” — and it should be mandatory to pass with flying colors before you are set loose to fend for yourself. The syllabus should include retirement plans and health benefits; creating/sticking with/balancing a budget; understanding loans (student, home, car, etc.) and HOW MUCH INTEREST (!!) they build up over time. An advanced course called “In Over Your Head 102” should address how to recover from poor financial decisions (so. much. interest!!!), and a remedial level class should be for those who get to college and still can’t do basic adult things like balance a checkbook, parallel park or sort laundry. (I would have passed that one, at least.)

Why do we not learn these things early in life? Why do I, a 4.0 double-degree honors student, want to go down to HR (again) and bang my head on Ms. Lisa’s desk as she vainly tries to explain (for the hundredth time) why my money is going somewhere else. But that wouldn’t be professional. And I’m a professional. I’m a college graduate with a full-time job.

And “benefits.”

Lucky me.