I’ll readily admit that I’m not the smartest person in the world, but I know that acting in anger only leads to more anger, retaliation, and the next thing you know the Navy SEALs are sent in, when the whole situation could have been avoided with simple words.
After giving myself a day and a half to rage about the lolcat, (also, here) I came up with several revenge plans–which are much funner to plan than to enact, especially if you’ve got enough foresight to envision the consequences–then made a decision as to what I should do. And, when I’m trying to smooth things over, what I do usually involves baking.
Today, I made a batch of bread, and left one of the loaves on the lolcat’s doorstep, along with this letter:
Please accept this homemade whole wheat bread, and my apologies. I feel like there is an animosity between us that, as neighbors, we can ill afford. I am sorry that my dogs are noisy at times, but I want to make my position known.
I have spent most of my life battling severe emotional disorders—I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder at the age of ten, and my depression often manifests itself in the form of anxiety. I have spent a lifetime talking to therapists and trying to find the right combination of drugs that would get me, if not to normal, than at least to functional. Over the years I’ve learned that acting in the heat of emotion never results in the outcome desired, so I’ve allowed myself a couple of days to calm down, and collect my thoughts and feelings. I wish I was a brave enough person to explain all this in person, but I am not.
I share this with you not as an excuse, but as an explanation of how important Max and Lulu are. It’s been three years since they’ve come to live with me. In that time, I’ve been able to completely cease both psychotherapy and drug treatment—and it’s because of my dogs. On my very worst days, the days when I don’t want to get out of bed, I still have to, because Max and Lulu need me. They calm me down when I’m anxious. They cheer me up when I’m sad. They have quite literally saved my life—when I lost my job last year, I was suicidal, but I couldn’t abandon my dogs. The simple fact that before I could do anything to harm myself, I needed to provide for their care and welfare prevented me from doing anything rash.
Max and Lulu were adults when I acquired them. Their previous owners had done an excellent job with most of their training, but socialization was lacking. However, as the previous owners live on a side street in a quiet, rural town the fact that they would bark at passing vehicles or pedestrians wasn’t as big of a deal.
When they came to live with me three years ago, everything seen and heard outside the windows would set them off. Passing vehicles, people on foot, the roosters in the pen to the east, the trains, the birds…everything. I spent a lot of time teaching them to be apartment dogs, and have gotten them to the point where they only bark when they see, smell or hear another dog, when people are talking loudly outside, or when Lulu wants someone to come pay attention to her. And yes, I realize that that seems like a long list, but consider how much noisier they would be if they barked at every car that drove by, or every person going to check their mail.
I have tried to be a good neighbor when it came to Max and Lulu, and I honestly thought I was succeeding until a couple of weeks ago. I realize that living in a condo complex like Lakeridge comes with challenges, like hearing the neighbors dog’s bark, or crying babies, or loud music, for instance. I assumed that everybody else did too. I’m not really sure how to proceed at this point. On one hand, I’m angry at the idea of having to run the air conditioner when it’s in the 60s outside, because if I leave the glass door or windows open the dogs might bark and be annoying—I’m still looking for a job, and am on a very fixed income, and I don’t want to pay a cent more in utilities than I have to—but on the other hand, I don’t want you to be angry at me, or my dogs.
Likewise, keeping them contained isn’t an option. I know you didn’t believe me when I tried to explain this on Sunday, but being confined to the crate doesn’t stop the barking, rather, it intensifies it, and adds digging, growling and howling. The crate lives in my bedroom—directly above your bedroom. If the dogs are keeping you up at night, (and if they are, why don’t you tell me that, rather than the vague “annoying”?) restricting them to the crate would only make things worse. Furthermore, I don’t feel good about restricting their access to water at any time, especially as the weather warms up. You said that it’s not that hard. I say it’s not that easy.
Max and Lulu are my world, but I know to you they are only yappy little dogs. Imagine if someone was leaving vulgar notes on your door complaining about your sweet baby, and perhaps you can understand why this has upset me so much Please know that we are trying, and we are getting better. In the mean time, please be patent with us.
I tried to be gentle. I tried to show understanding and compassion, and above all, I used vowels. I also signed my name.
I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I hope that we can put this whole business behind us. I’m afraid that it won’t be that easy, though.
edit:The neighbor that I thought was the lolcat came to return the bread. She’s not the one who left the note. On the plus side, I have a new friend, and an ally in this whole issue. On the downside, I’m horribly embarrassed, and have no idea who the Lolcat actually is. So… now, I don’t know what to do.
Is happiness an inherent right? As an American, I’ve totally been indoctrinated to the idea that “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are inalienable to all men.
So, pursuing happiness is okay, but what happens when I find it–or don’t, as the case may be? Is my potential happiness worth more or less than another persons? Should I abandon what makes me happy, or at least what has the potential to make happy to allow someone else to find their happiness? I think the answer to that is a resolute “yes” if my happiness willfully causes someone else pain, but what about otherwise?
This all stems from my neighbor the lolcat. She struck again yesterday, but this time, I caught her at it. And, apparently, I can’t have my windows open, or let the dogs have free range of their home because they might bark, and that’s annoying to her. Never mind their mental or physical well-being, or mine, not to mention energy consumption because I have the air conditioner on when it’s 60° F outside. If she mentioned sleep, or disturbing her baby, I wouldn’t be so upset by it all, but no, what she says is “annoying”.
On the whole, this has put me in a bigger funk than it strictly should have. I don’t like inconveniencing other people, and the thought that what brings me the most happiness on a regular basis–to whit, the dogs–causes someone else annoyance bothers me a great deal. I don’t know how to deal with this situation, I hate that my neighbor has had this much power over me, especially when she didn’t have the balls to come and discuss her issues face to face. At the same time, I realize that I do have neighbors that I share common walls with, and don’t want to annoy them any more than possible.
I do have to wonder, though, if the lolcat complains about the other children, or the loud music, or the trains, or the roosters, or the traffic or the other dogs or any of the other noises that comes from living in an apartment complex conveniently located to both campus and the freeway. And is the random, loud sobbing of a grown woman better or worse than a barking dog?
In less whiney news, I’ve started gathering inventory for an Etsy shop. I’m still not sure it’s going to pan out–I’m working out shipping and pricing and the like. Still, I figure it won’t hurt (much) to try.
I like to think that I understand dogs, Max and Lulu especially. I want to believe that the hours spent watching Animal Planet, and reading dog training advice (not to mention talking to the Trainers) during my breaks when I was working at PetSmart weren’t for nothing. I’m quietly smug when I see other people struggling with doggy issues that I know all about. I want to think of myself as a competent dog owner.
The past three years with Max and Lulu, though, have showed me that for all that I though I knew, there’s a million things that I didn’t know. And just when I think that I’m getting the hang of things, they throw me for a loop, and I’m left struggling in the dark.
For instance, a couple of nights ago I was going to bed at about 2 am. This isn’t as bad as it sounds–I had fallen asleep while reading earlier, and this just happened to be when I woke up, and had time to brush my teeth and put on pajamas and do all of those other little annoying things that a decent person does before going to bed.
As I was settling down, Max started looking for a toy. This isn’t unusual, because you never know, but I might just wake up in the middle of the night and decide to play with him. Plus, it gives Max a distraction if he’s awake and I’m not. The problem was where he was looking for the toy. He kept pawing at the wall next to the bed, like the toy he wanted had fallen between the bed and the wall.
I thought this was a little strange, but gamely moved the bed away from the wall to try and find the toy he wanted–shih tzu‘s are stubborn, and it’s hard to distract Max from a toy he wants. The problem was, there was nothing there. Max crawled under the bed and looked around, all the while growling and chuffing at me like he wanted to play, and I was hiding a toy from him. He got back up on the bed, and started digging at the bedding–that was really odd, because when I made the bed in the morning I make sure that any toys that spent the night with the dogs end up on the floor. Still, I pulled back the blankets and sheets, examining each layer to see if I’d somehow missed a thin toy or something.
I hadn’t, so I put the bed back together, and pushed it back up against the wall, and tried to settle down again, but Max was having none of that–he still kept digging at the wall. I wondered if a walk would distract him from whatever it was he was looking for. Upon putting on shoes–the universally recognized symbol that Cori is about to go outside at our house–Lulu perked up and followed me to the front door. Max kept digging at the mattress and wall. I was able to call him to go on the walk, and we were able to get things taken care of, and we headed back upstairs. Upon re-entering the house, Max, my velcro dog, the one who doesn’t like to be more than 10 feet away from me at any given time, made a beeline for the bed, and started digging and growling and huffing again–still playfully, though with a tinge of irritation.
It had been about forty-five minutes since this whole thing started, and I wanted to go to sleep–and it obviously wasn’t going to happen until Max had figured out that there was nothing there, so I grabbed a blanket and pillow, and went to sleep on the couch–cussing all the time. Here I’m supposed to be at least a quasi dog expert, and I just let my dog chase me out of my bed. As I lay on the couch, I pondered what could have caused Max to behave in such a manner–did we have mice? Possible, but we live on a third floor, and the wall he was digging at is an inside wall–it didn’t face the exterior and isn’t connected to a neighbor’s wall at all. Besides, it would be a weird place for mice to show up, I’d expect them in the kitchen or the bathroom, not the bedroom where the dogs spend most of their day. Something from the utilities, perhaps? We-e-e-l-l…that wall has electricity, and I THINK it’s where the dryer vent exits, but there isn’t gas or water running through that wall. And as for the dryer vent–we have had starlings nesting in it, but there nest had been cleared out, and a cage put over the exterior hole so they couldn’t build a new one there. And besides, even where there were birds living inside that wall, Max never showed them any interest.
Finally, I convinced myself that it was something from downstairs that Max was smelling, that it just happened to come up along that wall. I wasn’t terribly satisfied with that explanation, but it was an explanation. Explanations are important. Especially when it’s nearing 3am and I want to sleep.
I heard Max in the bedroom for perhaps another 15 minutes, then he decided that whatever it was he wasn’t finding wasn’t worth spending the night away from his person, so he came out to join me on the couch. I took that as a sign that it was okay to move back into the bedroom, and did so with the resolve that if Max’s adventure were to continue, he’d spend the rest of the night locked in the crate.
Fortunately, he had calmed down to the point where his half-hearted growls could be quieted with a heavy hand on the shoulders, and I was able to get some sleep, and even make it to class on time the next day, throughly puzzled about what had happened, and why it had happened.
The next night, I went to bed at a much more decent time, and Max settled down quickly, the way he normally does. While I was going to sleep, I was thinking about the dream I had had the night before, trying to figure out if I could frame it into a story (the answer is no, at least not at this time) and I wondered if what Max was did the night before was the result of being woken up from a dream.
The way I figure it, Max sees me opening up parts of the wall all day long, in the form of doors, windows, cupboards and drawers. If he had been dreaming that I (or someone else) opened up the wall by the bed and hid something there, then I woke him up by coming to bed, would he know the difference between dreams and reality? And, if in his dream, it was a really good toy or treat or whatever, than of course he’d keep going after it.
I don’t know if the dream explanation makes any sense, after all, I can’t exactly ask Max what he dreams about (well, I can, I just don’t get an answer). As long as it means that I don’t have mice.
The problem with knowing that you are a hypochondriac is that it’s often difficult to know where there’s an actual medical emergency, or if your worst case scenario drive is kicking in.
This morning, for instance. I ran down to my car to get the crock pot that has been sitting in the trunk since Easter (the trunk of my car is a little like a black hole. Once something goes in, there’s a good chance it’ll never come out again). The dogs were acting like they needed to come out too, so I brought them along to attend to their own needs.
Whatever happened to Lulu happened while I had my back to her, so I don’t know what it was. All I know is that I turned around, and she wasn’t using one of her front paws. I tried to examine it to see if there was a piece of glass or a splinter of a bee sting in it, but she whimpering and crying and wouldn’t let me look at it.
After picking her up the first time, she didn’t want to walk (not that I can blame her, poor girl,) so I ended up carrying both her and the crock pot upstairs. Upon reaching the safety of our house, she relaxed a bit, but was still not using her paw, and trying to follow me around while I got ready for class, with a “mommy make it better” look on her face.
After watching her for a bit, I decided that I needed someone a little less hysterical than myself, so I called both Mom and Sis to ask for advice–I didn’t want to call a veterinarian because I knew they’d say to bring her in. Sis said take her to the vet just to be sure, but maybe wait until after class. Mom reminded me of my limited funds, and counseled waiting for a few days. While I was on the phone, Lulu started putting more weight on her foot, and moving around a little better–even if she was still whimpering and limping.
So, off to class, then back home again. And guess who greeted me at the front door happy and bouncy and ready to play?
Her paw looks fine, it’s not swollen at all, and she’s letting me handle it.
So, I have no idea what happened, except that I had my own little mini freak-out. All in all, Lulu handled the whole situation better than I did.
And Max just sat back and laughed at the both of us.
It’s funny how inspiration works, when I was sans computer, and thus couldn’t update my blog, I was getting all sorts of ideas for posts. Upon getting it back, however, my brilliant ideas seemed less brilliant.
I spent yesterday fighting. Mostly with myself, which was a bit odd, because I was fighting for myself. See, I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to ask for help. (Really, B-I-L and Jon. I feel horrible when I ask you to help me) Even if the person I need help from is paid to help me (store clerks, for instance) I’m hesitant to ask for help.
I finally made it in to see my advisor yesterday, except, she wasn’t my advisor. Really, I shouldn’t be surprised, that’s how this whole going back to school thing has been for me. Still, she was able to take the hold of my record so hypothetically, I can register for classes–after waiting so long that there’s a very good chance I’m not going to get in to the classes I need.
But, I got my bus pass figured out, and I know who my advisor is now, and, after the system recognizes that my major has been changed to the one I actually want, and I still can’t register for classes I know who to talk to.
Today was destined to be a bad day when, after finally getting to sleep around three, I was awakened two hours later because Lulu was scared of the thunderstorm that was rolling through. And two hours after that because she needed to go outside. Which pretty much describes my day.
I’ve been stuck pretty close to the toilet all day. But, on the other hand, the lemon pancakes they have right now are delicious. I have a goal to find/invent a recipe duplicating them.
Montaigne and I have been becoming good friends, to the point where I found a used copy of the book I checked out of the library on Amazon for a song. I’m excited to have a copy that I can highlight and make notes in.
While reading Montaigne is slow going, I’m enjoying it. His essays came about because, after a lifetime of public service, he did what all proper French Noblemen did in the 15oo’s. He set about to write a book. The problem was, he didn’t know what to write about, so he wrote about being Michel Montaigne. (That sounds familiar, somehow…) It really is like the 16th century version of a blog.
I’m only about 30 pages into the essays, but what I’ve gleaned of his philosophy so far (and what the program that got me interested in reading them in the first place) can be summed up as: “Life is tough. You’re not perfect. Get over it.” Good advice, no?
I need to decide quickly what I’m going to do for the 4th. Probably nothing. Sis is going camping with the folks, but, after driving to her house only to be ignored by G yesterday, I’ve decided that I need to give myself some space from her family.
I could go to my hometown, for the cheesy little parade that the citified B-I-L laughs at (Really, the cheesiness is part of the charm), then stick around for the fireworks, but, I have a gun shy little dog. Right now, I’m listening to thunder and having my shoulder massaged because Lulu curled around my neck and is just shivering.
Between the seasonal thunderstorms and the fireworks that won’t stop throughout the month of July, it’s a bad time of year at my house.