Wednesday, February 22, 2017

All About the Dog Who Came to Stay

A year and a half ago, I wrote a blog about fostering dogs, ending, of course, with Thunder, who had at that point been around for a tumultuous six months.  In the subsequent year and a half, he resolutely refused to be adopted by anyone.  And I refused to adopt him.  We seemed to mutually agree that we belonged to each other, but nothing was official.

As we've been moving over the past couple weeks, we've talked about how to transition Thunder to a new home (with a bigger yard and less stairs!), and how to change our lives so that we could still take care of his needs with a longer work commute for us both.  He had been slowing down lately, had arthritis, and couldn't do the stairs to the basement anymore.  But with the painkillers he was now on, he was seeming to become sweeter and more tolerant (well, for him).  He still loved going on walks, wanted to be nearby, and wanted lots and lots of petting.  I hadn't given up on him in the over two years he'd been around (in spite of his innate ability to be a jerk when he wanted), and I wasn't going to start now.

In my blog, I talked about how I liked fostering because I didn't have to deal with the death of a pet.

Well, that's no longer true.

My temperamental, lovable, fuzzy jerk passed away early Saturday morning, after a late night trip to the emergency vet clinic Friday night.

We'd gone for our usual walk that morning, but when Mark got home around 3:30 Thunder didn't get up.  He still didn't get up when I got home at 5:30, except briefly.  We thought he just wasn't feeling good, so left to take another load over to the new house.  When I came home later, he seemed even worse and was barely responding to anything I did, so I called the emergency clinic and took him in (with some help, since I had taken NyQuill and couldn't carry a 70 pound dog down the stairs anyway).

The vet there told me that he was severely anemic, had fluid in his stomach from bleeding internally, and that his blood pressure had been too low to register.  He thought he saw a mass in his stomach, which was probably a tumor.  I got to say goodnight to him, then left him there for monitoring.

In the morning, I got a call from Stray Rescue telling me that he had stopped breathing at 3:30 that morning while the vets were trying to give him a transfusion.  He'd had cancer that no one knew about.

I spent the next three hours crying non-stop while trying to pack.

He wasn't officially my dog, but he'd all but chosen me nearly two and a half years ago when Stray Rescue first decided to have me meet a dog "who didn't really like anyone."  Thirty seconds after they brought him in the room, he was rolling in my lap.  We've pretty much been together ever since, through heartworm treatment and failed trial adoptions and him eating an entire hambone and being the laziest dog known to man.  We've snuggled, been pissed at each other, and eventually figured each other out.

I loved the jerk.  He was my jerk.  He was my snuggle buddy, my shadow, and my big cowardly baby.

I miss him.  I miss his goofy face, and the way his butt would sway when you scratched it.  I miss his droopy sad ears when he watched us eat dinner.  I miss him curling up on my yoga mat while I was using it.  I miss his 70 pounds of snuggle crushing my sternum when he'd lay on top of me.

I'm glad he didn't really suffer.  I'm glad I got to say goodnight to him.  And I'm glad he got to go on one last walk that morning.

Most of all, I'm glad I brought home the big jerk when I'm sure few other people would have been willing to do the same.  I'm glad I took a gamble on him, and gave him the home he probably never had before, even if it was only for a short time, and even if he ultimately broke my heart in the process.

I wouldn't change a thing.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Situation Normal...

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.

Wait, that's been done already?  Alright, let's try again...

These are the times that try men's souls.

That's already taken too?


How about plain old "this sucks"?  Does that work?

Obviously I'd like to simply fill today's blog with cliched, overused, and occasionally fatalistic quotes so that I don't actually have to add on to my current To Do list (which is daunting at best, impossible at worst) and actually write a blog.

Did I mention we're still moving?  Did I mention that we're moving into a house that's still mostly full?  Did I mention we need to be completely out of our current place (with it cleaned and fixed for inspection) by the 28th?

Did I mention we have yet to send out wedding invitations?

Did I mention I'm in almost constant freak-out mode and that the sight of a calendar sends me into a panic?

I did?


And yes, I know we'll get through it.  I know the end result will be worth the stress and the tears and the work and frustration.  I know that.  I do.  That doesn't change the fact that right now?  It sucks.  It sucks and it's hard and I want it to be over so I can get to the good part, the part where it's all worth it, the part where my life isn't crammed into boxes and shoved into a room, the part where we're not eating fast food nearly ever day in between transferring boxes from place to place.

If you don't see either of us until April, this is why.  We don't have time.  We don't have energy.  We have a house to buy, a wedding to arrange, an apartment to clean, and an ex to frame for any damage.

We're swamped.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Pretty Stressed Girl

As I begin to type this, there are approximately 16 tabs open on my browser.  To be fair, some of those have to do with books I want to read and cakes I want to eat.  And one of them is this blog. But a lot of the rest have to do with things that are seriously stressing me out right now.

And do I even begin to describe how many tabs it feels like I have open in my brain?  Because it's way more than 16.

The ironic thing is that never before in my life have I been so invested in self-care, in methods of relaxation and mindfulness.  I've been doing yoga almost daily since the middle of January.  I've been taking a relaxing bath (complete with wine) every Friday for about a month.  I've been taking care of my skin, drinking a lot of water, and we've even started throwing in some lavender aromatherapy melts into our nightly shower.  I should be blissfully relaxed, floating around on a pleasant-smelling cloud of divine and glowing happiness.

Instead?  My shoulders have ached for days.  I've developed frequent headaches.  My appetite is rapidly deserting me.  Mark's blood pressure is way up.

Why, you ask?  Why on earth are two such usually-happy and fairly content lovebirds so rapidly descending into a state similar to a dangerously frayed wire?

That's an easy one.

A.  We're buying a house.

B.  We're moving.

C.  We're getting married.

Did I mention this is all happening in under 60 days (for the most part in under 30)?

Excuse me while I hyperventilate, laugh a little too loudly and a little too nervously, and then go hide under the covers until people stop asking me questions.


I'm breathing.  Really.


Totally breathing.

Shockingly, not everything has been going according to plan.  Mainly that while buying a house from a family member certainly has its many perks, it also has a very significant number of downfalls.   A very, very significant number.

Right now, the apartment is in a state of disrepair.  My books (over 20 boxes) are packed and gone, we have a list of furniture we're (hopefully) moving over tomorrow, and I have a LOT to go through, get rid of, organize, and pack.

I am ridiculously looking forward to this all being done, to finally being in a home of our own, married, and living our life together full time.  I'm excited about hanging up pictures, about a new oven and fridge, about having a garage, and about getting to set up a home together in a new and fresh place.  I'm thrilled to no longer have to deal with a rental company and to get to come home to my love every single night.

I'm also panicking about getting it all done in time, worrying if something else is going to go wrong, trying to pick a caterer for the wedding, needing to finish up invitations, and and and...

Right.  Breathing.

Ultimately, I do believe everything is going to work out.  I do.  It's going to be stressful as hell in the meantime, but I believe we'll get there.  We've made it so far, right?  We've made it through almost a a decade and a half of friendship, through my divorce, through losing my job, through my learning how to be a stepmother-in-training, and through over two years of mostly living together.  What's two more months of last-minute major life changes?

(Not coincidentally, everyone has decided that if we can make it through the next two months, we can definitely survive marriage.  Nothing like trial by fire, am I right?)

Mark asked me the other day how we got to this point.  I told him that 13 years ago I showed up at a community theatre audition, that's how.

Okay, it might not have been quite what he was asking, but it's true nonetheless.

I never could have dreamed that we would be at this point.  I never imagined that my completely insane love-at-first-sight reaction at age 18 would lead to a second marriage, a move back to Illinois, to buying a house together.  The most I hoped for at the time was that he thought I was cute and that he wouldn't notice that I was the most awkward girl on the planet.  I'm ridiculously lucky in that I've gotten all that and more.  (Okay, he's probably realized I'm the most awkward girl on the planet by now, but at least he doesn't seem to mind too much.)

Am I more stressed than I've been since my divorce?  Yes.  Have I cried?  Yes.  Am I going to cry more?  Probably.

But is it all going to be worth it?

To quote one of my all-time favorite lines of dialogue, "Abso-fucking-lutely."

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

And Many More?

I have no idea how it happened, but I turned 32 this past weekend.

I'm not going to say I'm old, but I am going to say that I turned 21 eleven years ago, and that seems... impossible.

I mean, look at that kid.  She's a baby.  She has no idea what the hell is in store for her.  I have to fight the desire to shake her, quite frankly.

But, a lot (and I mean a lot) of time has passed since then.  I got married, got divorced, and am about to get married again (because I'm apparently a very, very serial monogamist).

Eleven years is a long time, and now?

I'm 32.

It's not ancient, but it's by no means young.  And I'm fine with that.  I like my age, I like myself, and I like my life.  I like what I've accomplished, particularly over the past few years.

And I (still) like my birthday.

Last year was probably one of my favorite birthdays ever.  I had a fabulous, low-key party and spent my entire birthday day with Mark.

This year?  Things were a little different.

For starters, my family met Mark's family for the first time for a birthday lunch.  It... well, let's just say it did not quite go as planned, and leave it at that.  That lovely experience was followed up by seeing Trolls with Mark, Kaylee, and my parents.  (Cute movie, bit too long.)

Then I went home to get ready for the Prohibition Party, a long-standing event that my friends Jessica and Chris throw every year.  This year it happened to fall on my birthday, so Jessica got me a cake.

And by cake, I mean the best cake ever.


Being the birthday girl, I decided to wear something a bit fancier than my usual costume of a slip and a see-through lace dress.  So I crossed my fingers and slipped into my great-grandma's wedding dress.  And it actually fit... kindof... if you ignore the fact that it doesn't fasten up on the side.  At all.

Not one to give up so easy, I pinned together one of my furs into a makeshift sleeve, pinned that to the dress, threw on some pearls, grabbed my champagne, and managed to socialize for almost four hours.

Sunday was birthday brunch, followed by a well-earned food coma and Kaylee wanting to come over and give me my birthday card, followed by the official start of packing up the apartment I've lived in for seven years. 

And then on Monday Mark had the day off for our now-traditional birthday adventures.

Which... also didn't quite work out the way we planned, as the Contemporary Art Museum was closed.  So?  We walked around IKEA (which is basically some strange form of modern art itself), had lunch at Crown Candy Kitchen, and later had buffet.

It obviously wasn't the most remarkable of birthday adventures, but I'm not complaining.  We're both under a lot of stress right now with preparing for both a move and a wedding, so a low-key and unremarkable day was probably more along the lines of what we needed.  And all I really wanted to do was spend the day together (and get a BLT at Crown Candy Kitchen), so mission: accomplished.

32 definitely was not a bad birthday, in spite of all the reasons it could very well have been.  I got to dress up, have amazing cake, and go home whenever I was ready.  I got to spend a day with the love of my life.  I got brunch and so many lovely and thoughtful presents from my lovely and thoughtful friends.

I'm a little older, a little wiser (I hope), and about to embark on one hell of a life adventure with a guy who makes me feel like it's always my birthday.

I could do worse.