Mine! Mine! Mine!

A few weekends ago, Lucy graduated from sleeping in her kennel each night to sleeping out free in the room. It’s gone really well, actually… on Lucy’s part. She stays quiet, she mostly waits until our alarms go off to ask to go outside, and she hasn’t chewed on anything in the night. We’re very proud of her.

It’s Meera that has become the problem.

For a long time now, Meera has had a large, flat dog bed in the floor of our bedroom. It’s an eggshell memory foam mattress – really ridiculous for a dog – but it was the largest size Walmart had so that’s what I came home with. She has always seemed to love it and, as anyone who knows Meera is aware, she does not share well.

So when Lucy started trying to sneak onto the mattress to sleep with big sister, that was not okay. Nevermind the fact that it’s plenty big enough for the both of them, or that Meera outweighs Lucy by at least 40 pounds and could easily just make her move… no… if Lucy is on the dog bed, Meera has a fit and comes over to my side of the bed to groan and whine and complain until I finally get up and (attempt to) do something about it.

That got old REALLY quickly!

So, to balance things out, we bought Lucy her own bed. A logical decision, right? We thought so.

So we brought home a small dog bed (one with the raised sides, like a little boat) and put it in the corner where Lucy’s kennel used to be. Keep in mind that this bed was significantly smaller than Meera’s bed.

Lo and behold, if Meera didn’t see that shiny new dog bed and decide, then and there, that she didn’t care what size it was the new bed was hers and Lucy absolutely could not have it. (Petty, jealous brat that she is.)

So last week, we watched as Meera turned daintily around in the tiny dog bed and proceeded to squish herself down into it. (Picture a large bird on a small nest. Or a big cat fitting itself into a little box.) She fit… but just barely. The sides of the bed were almost flat on the floor, but she was determined. This is new, so this is mine. I don’t care that I’m obviously uncomfortable, I’m proving a point here.

So she stayed there all night. I was amazed. And of course, Lucy spread out on the giant dog bed and enjoyed herself immensely.

The next day I took the tiny bed back and exchanged it for a larger size, since if Meera is going to be a brat about it she might as well be a comfortable brat.

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Keep in mind, the previous bed was at least a third smaller.

I’d say she likes it. She’s barely gotten out of it in days. In fact, she now likes to have it in her kennel during the day as well.

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It’s her happy place, apparently. It’s still technically supposed to be Lucy’s bed, but I guess as long as they’re both happy and not waking me up, I don’t really care. Pick your battles and all that, right?

All in all, I’d say $25 well spent.

 

 

Trust me, you don’t need a life plan.

In high school and college, I heard lots of talk from friends and teachers about “having a life plan.” Five-year, 10-year, 15-year plans: Career moves, marriage, children, whatever it was you wanted in life, you needed to have a clear set of goals to get there. Everybody stressed the importance of having a predetermined path to get to a specific place where you thought you wanted to be.

Over and over again, I’ve seen friends who couldn’t meet the goals outlined in their “life plans” and suffered great anxiety and disappointment because of it.

Through the course of my job, I’ve had the privilege to interview a large number of people who have been deemed “successful” by the world at large: company CEOs, lawyers, doctors, civil servants, athletes, coaches, television personalities, etc. People who have reached the top of their field, according to those around them. And I’ve started to see a common thread running through all my interviews.

They didn’t have a “life plan.” They didn’t follow a set of goals to get to where they are today. In many cases, they aren’t even in the fields they intended to be in and wound up where they are largely by happy accident.

Bill Rhodes, president and CEO of AutoZone, was hired into his first auditing job (which later led directly to his AutoZone position) not because of his auditing skills, but because that company had an interdepartmental golf challenge each year, and Rhodes was an all-star college golfer.

He is CEO today, ultimately, because he could hit a golf ball. (He’s an excellent leader and has done great things for that company, but we’re just focusing on the beginning steps here.)

Houston Gordon, a nationally-recognized trial lawyer, took the exam to go to law school because his friends were taking it, and he happened to have enough money to pay the exam fee. Then, while in law school, he joined the National Moot Court Team because a friend saw a flyer and wanted to try out. He didn’t even know what the word “moot” meant! (Told me that himself earlier this week.)

His experience on that team led directly to a position with the Army JAG Corps in the ’70s, during which time he served as primary defense lawyer for Lt. William Calley, a case well-known by those who grew up in the Vietnam era. That case in turn changed him from a tax lawyer to a trial lawyer, and he went on to change the national laws and procedures for half-a-dozen different legal charges. He’s consistently named one of the top-100 trial lawyers in the country, is the winner of dozens of awards and is highly sought-after by clients all over the nation.

No life plan. Just enough money in the bank to take the law school aptitude test.

So I’ve come to this conclusion: having a set “life plan” probably holds us back from many things. Houston Gordon intended to be a professional basketball player. Think of how different the legal world would be if he’d been successful on that path.

I think it is of more benefit to teach our high school and college students to have a good enough educational, spiritual, physical and emotional foundation to be able to accept new opportunities when they come and take the chances that may be offered along the way. Who knows, maybe the person who could have cured cancer ended up teaching mathematics at a high school somewhere because that was his/her original “life goal” and he/she never even considered any other field.

Be open to change. Don’t fear opportunity. Maybe taking life by the horns is the best way to get where you’re truly meant to go.

Happy weekend,

The Missus

 

Weeks ago, my husband nudged me awake.

“Babe, your alarm is going off.”

Wait… what…?

I sat up and listened. Hard.

“I don’t hear anything.”

He pushed me again.

“Trust me. Your alarm is going off.”

So I rolled to the edge of the bed and, sure enough, my iPad screen was on and a still, small sound was barely audible. I’d left the volume turned down to the lowest possible setting from the night before. I pushed the button and rolled back over.

“How can you hear that but you can’t hear me when I’m talking to you?”

“What? I dunno.”

[flash forward a few days]

“Honey, I still don’t know how you could hear my alarm the other day, but you can’t hear me when I’m talking to you. I was right next to it, and I couldn’t hear it ringing.”

“Well, I spend all day, every day, listening for small sound changes. Heart murmurs, valves closing, that sort of thing. So big sounds just get tuned out. You talk all the time. You’re a big sound. I don’t even hear those anymore.”

…….

…….

…….

Well, there you have it.

😉

Lines

Anyone who is or has ever been a Gilmore Girls fan knows Rory Gilmore is supposedly a world-class journalist. She ends the original series with a post-graduation position as a press corps member on the first Obama presidential campaign – a job that would be demanding, stressful, challenging and incredible, regardless of political party. 

In the newly released four additional episodes, “A Year in the Life,” Rory takes a writing assignment “on spec” (without pay until the article is finished and accepted for publication) for a major magazine. The pitch, called “Lines,” is supposed to focus on the long lines prevalent in New York City for everything from store openings to special sales to mystery guest appearances and the people who spend their time waiting in them. 

Rory spends several hours one morning interviewing people standing in various lines and asks a lot of random, disconnected questions about the things they are waiting to buy. She ultimately goes home disapponted and unable to find an angle to pitch the story at all.

This irritates me to no end because I know exactly how she should write it! The whole point is the human interest aspect – who are these people and why do they spend their time this way? We don’t care what they’re waiting for; we care why they’re waiting! 

Never once does Rory, who has supposedly been published in The New Yorker, ask any significant questions about these people’s lives. What backgrounds do they come from? Why are those special sneakers important enough to them to camp out on the sidewalk? Why did the mother she interviews leave her children at home to wait in this particular line? What are these people giving up to have the time to be in these lines, and why is it worth the sacrifice? 

She even runs into a man who doesn’t know what he’s waiting in line for! He just saw a line of people and got in it, figuring he didn’t want to miss out on whatever they might be waiting for! Now, if you can’t pull a story from that then you aren’t worth your salt as a journalist. 

I love human interest stories! I love writing them and I love the interviews that tell you more about the lives behind the faces you see on the street. I could have pitched a whole series of articles on the different reasons, personalities and backgrounds of people in New York’s infamous lines! In fact, I would love to do that! I love our quiet little town, but sometimes I wonder what things I could have done somewhere else. 

I may be burned at the stake for this, but I am very disappointed in Rory Gilmore.

What was all that Yale education for, anyhow? 

Do you really want a hippopotamus for Christmas?

You know that song, “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas. Only a hippopotamus will do!”? I love that song! I don’t know why, but I do. My college roommate even got me a plastic hippopotamus Christmas ornament one year that still goes up annually.

However, when it comes to actually getting a hippopotamus for Christmas, the sensible thing is to pass. I don’t have the time, energy, money, space or experience to care for a hippopotamus, no matter how much I might want one. Yes, baby hippos are adorable (it’s the wrinkles). But you know what? Baby hippos turn into big hippos, and then even bigger hippos. And I don’t have any idea how to look at a baby hippo and tell how big it’s going to be; therefore there’s no way to properly prepare for the amount of space it will need. (Will it fit in the backyard swimming pool or not? How can I tell?)

The same applies to puppies. Puppies (and kittens and whatever other living things) for Christmas.

We’ve all seen the videos of the squealing children as the puppy tumbles out of a barely-wrapped box, red ribbon around its neck, and smothers its new people in slobbery puppy kisses. It’s adorable.

But it’s death till you part, my friends. Or it should be.

Any living thing – whether we’re talking puppies for Christmas or ducklings for Easter – is a commitment for the life of that animal. It’s not a “let’s play with it until the kids get tired and send it back” sort of thing. It’s not a “if it gets too big we’ll just get rid of it” or “if it’s too expensive we’ll just let it go” situation. It’s a “I have brought you into my life and I promise to care for you, whatever you may need, until you are no longer with us” scenario.

You wouldn’t adopt a child and give them the sense that they belong to your family and will be safe and cared for, and then send them back to the adoption agency when they don’t sleep through the night. What sort of news scandals would that cause?! I know not every one considers their pets to be their “babies,” like I do, and that’s fine, but that doesn’t mean you can just get rid of them whenever they may become an inconvenience.

Not all pets are truly members of the family, like mine are, but there is a difference between somebody’s pet and just another animal.

I have nothing against outside pets. I wish my dogs were outside pets, and as soon as we get a fence put up they will make the transition full-time. However, if you don’t want to touch the dog except with the barest minimum head-pat; if you don’t want the dog to touch you in any way; if you don’t want there to be any sign in your home, in your car or on your clothes that you own a dog at all; if you don’t have time or knowledge to properly train the dog; if you don’t ever want to hear the dog; if you don’t see a need to socialize the dog with other animals or people — in short, if you just want the dog to sit quietly in the yard and look pretty so you can tell people you own a dog, then you don’t want a dog, you want a lawn ornament.

Buy a lawn ornament. Spare the dog the loneliness of a life with you. (And that applies all year long, not just for Christmas.)

Also, don’t get puppies as presents unless your children are old enough to care for the dog or you are prepared (inevitably) to care for the dog yourself. And you are prepared to love that dog (or kitten or hippopotamus) and provide it with proper food, shelter, medical care and, yes, companionship. Because sticking the dog in the yard and having no interaction except to put down a bowl of food once a day while the dog sits where it can’t touch you is not companionship.

If someone put their child in their room and had no interaction with him except to put some food under the door a few times a day, we’d call that neglect. Don’t put your pets through that.

Buy stuffed animals for Christmas. Buy real animals for life.

Happy Friday,

The Missus

 

But you’ll love it when you’re 70…

If I had a dollar for every time in my life an older person has come up to me and said, “Sweetheart, you just look like you’re still 15,” I would be a wealthy woman.

Here is why you should never say that to a young person, male or female:

It’s insulting. Period. Whether you think so or not, it is.

Yes, yes, I know, the common response is, “But honey you’ll love it when you’re 70!” Yes. I probably will. When I’m 70 I will likely want to look 11 years younger than my age. But right now, at 26, your casual words undermine my authority, my professionalism and my self-confidence in the workplace.

I am a young professional, not many years out of college, still trying to prove myself and my abilities in the workforce. When you come up and ask me if I’m still in high school, and then insist that looking like a teenager is a good thing, that is the opposite of flattering or helpful.

What board room of executives is going to take a 15-year-old seriously? Probably not the ones I walk into.

Remember when you were fresh out of school? Remember when you wanted to be taken seriously? How would those comments have felt to you then?

This also spills over into cruel assumptions made about a person’s intelligence and decision-making abilities based on their “appeared” age. I have a young friend my age who got married the same summer the Mister and I did. She and her husband now have two beautiful sons, the first of whom was born a year or so after their wedding. She was 22 at the time.

I cannot believe – and yet, really I can believe – the insulting remarks and actions she received any time she took her firstborn out in public. Things like, “Honey, you aren’t old enough to have that child,” and “Don’t tell me he’s yours!?” and “Did you do this on purpose?” Yes folks, it really happens. And I expect it to happen to me too one day, unfortunately.

So, please, make an effort in the coming year to put the phrase “But you look so young…” out of your vocabulary. (Unless you actually are in a nursing home, in which case it is probably appreciated.) Please be respectful of the younger generation still trying to blaze their trails in the world, and please don’t make assumptions about young-looking women with children. For all you know she could be in her thirties and just be “blessed” with a teenager’s physique.

A work in progress

Those who know me personally know that I had a unrealistic expectation that the Mister and I would close on our new house, get all the painting and fixing up completely done, and then move our belongings inside and start living in an already-magazine-perfect home.

Yes, yes, I know. You’re laughing. I get it.

That is not what happened, obviously. Maybe if we’d both taken two weeks off work and did nothing but work on the house, but certainly not with 8-5 jobs and two puppies to take care of.

In reality, we closed on the house on a Monday, and I took the day off to paint and clean. Lots of work got done that day. Then nothing else got done all week long. We gave up the dream and moved in that Saturday.

The house is a work in progress, but progress is being made. The hallway is completely painted and has been for a few weeks now. We’ve bought a few small pieces of furniture and the Mister hung new blinds in the living room and kitchen last week. There’s even a welcome mat by the back door. It’s a slow progress, but it’s progress.

The biggest hurdle of the past few weeks has been the color of the living room walls. The Mister loves the chocolate brown and cranberry red that are already there, and I don’t dislike them, but I wanted to make the house OURS instead of just living in someone else’s home… so I’m painting.

I have agonized over the color choices for WEEKS! I’ve brought home dozens of paint cards and painstakingly eliminated one by one. I’ve bought quarts of test colors and painted swatches on the walls and scrutinized them from every angle in every type of light. I finally came to a decision a little more than a week ago. After painting almost one whole wall with my test quart, I ran back to Walmart for a few more gallons. They were out of the base type they needed to mix my paint, and they weren’t sure that a substitution would still work just right. So I waited.

Last week went by. The wall was half done and driving me crazy. So yesterday, Sunday, I went back to Walmart. They STILL didn’t have the base type I needed (our rural Walmart only restocks thing about once a quarter), but I agreed to try a substitution in the hopes that it would match.

I got home and painted a test patch. It was close! I thought it was the same! But it wasn’t. I continued painting, hoping it would somehow, magically be the same color when it dried. Or that maybe if I just kept painting I would cease to care.

As it turns out, after much pacing and muttering and frustration… I actually like the mistake color better than the color I chose. I hate to admit that, because I spent so much time choosing that color, but the mistake is slightly deeper and, believe it or not, is EXACTLY the color I had in my mind but couldn’t find on paper.

I bought two more quarts of the exact same “mistake” formula and redid the wall.

So it’s a work in progress. The living room looks TERRIBLE right now, with one wall needing a last coat, one wall with only the edges done and one wall with a big swatch right in the middle where I needed to use up the rest of the paint I’d already poured out. It’s horrendous. But when it’s done, it will be beautiful, and it will be exactly what I wanted.

So here’s to making a house a home, and here’s to a husband who lets me pick whatever colors I want without (too much) complaining. 🙂

Happy Monday,

The Missus