Thoughts on Puppies

When we brought Twix home as a puppy 12 years ago, I had no idea what we were in for. I’d never had a puppy before. I was so excited to have this chance to bond with a dog from puppyhood. I was sure it was going to be monumental.

It was monumental. Monumentally disastrous.

That little dog did so much damage. Nothing was safe. We were sleep deprived and constantly on alert lest the puppy discover another stash of our roommate’s weed. It was exhausting.

Back then, I swore that if having a puppy was anything even remotely like having a baby, we were never going to have kids.

Ha.

Ha.

Hah.

The thing is that 10+ years take their toll on both your factual memory and your emotional memory. I look at Twix now and man–I love this dog like I never thought I could love a dog. She is my pal. All of that trouble was SO worth it. It was worth every chewed shoe, lost rental deposit and disappearing dinner plate.

After Rolo died, we discussed what would come next. Twix hates puppies, and we knew we couldn’t bring a puppy into our lives while Twix was with us. Still, we really wanted Charlotte to have the opportunity to bond with a puppy like we did with Twix. We decided that we’d get a puppy when Twix dies. (Um… never, right?)

In the meantime, my parents came home with Penny–the cutest ball of golden retriever fluff you’ve ever seen. We swooned. Oh, how we swooned. I mean really, baby animals are pretty much the cutest things ever.

Then, we moved in with my parents for our bathroom remodel. We’ve now spent about 2.5 weeks with a 4-month old puppy and I’d like to share what I’ve learned:

  1. Puppies and 2.5 year olds do not mix.
  2. Take your typical two year old tantrums and amplify them by 100 because the puppy is chewing on their toy/food/diaper/sock/book/ponytail/etc.
  3. Now factor in that the growing puppy has no concept that she weighs almost as much as the toddler and knocks her down every 10 seconds causing more screaming and hysterics. “Penny pushed me over! WAHHHHHHH!!!!!
  4. Charlotte talks in her sleep pretty regularly. Sometime around 4 this morning, she yelled, “No, Penny don’t take that it’s miiiiiiiine!” Puppy thievery has even invaded the poor kids dreams.
  5. Puppies are annoying as hell.
  6. I do not have the patience for the antics of both a puppy and a small child.
  7. I do not want another puppy.
  8. Even my parents regret getting this puppy. (Don’t get me wrong–they love her–they just haven’t had a puppy in 40 years, so you know… they forgot. She’s a lot for them.)
  9. Puppies basically kind of suck.
  10. They’re still cute though.

I absolutely cannot wait to return to my puppy-free home. I will thoroughly enjoy visiting the puppy. I just don’t want to live with her anymore.

So, if you’re contemplating adding a puppy to your life, consider what My Perfect Breakdown has been going through and then factor in my little list. Do you value your sanity? Can you handle listening to your child whine about the puppy every 30 seconds for the next 6 months?

If you need something fuzzy and warm to cuddle with, wrap a teddy bear in an electric blanket. It’s a much better option.

Photo on 4-17-18 at 12.45 PM

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Notes from the Unemployed

I have not been unemployed in 18 years. With the exception of maternity leave, I have never taken more than 2 consecutive weeks off from work, and I am 99% positive that I only did that once—for my wedding & honeymoon.

I have spent years sitting at my desk daydreaming about the things I would do with my day if I didn’t have to work. I would write. I’d cook and clean and fix everything that needs fixing around the house. I’d meal prep and coupon clip and be the most magical mama ever.

Reality check… not happening. (Yet? I hope?)

We are approaching the 2 week anniversary of the day I threw my job to the wolves, and I have much less to show for it than I imagined. That may partly be due to the fact that we’re still living with my parents while our bathroom is under construction. It’s hard to feel that sense of owning your life when you’re living with your parents. There’s about a week left of the bathroom renovation, and I am counting the minutes.

Mainly though, I am exhausted. My bones ache and my eyes burn and I just feel so damn tired. It’s entirely possible that this level of weariness has been caused by sharing a bed with a windmill who talks in her sleep for the past 2+ weeks, but I also suspect that my body is doing a cleanse of sorts—recovering from the years it spent in that toxic work environment.

So far, I am struggling to get a grip on anything. I spend my days running around town accomplishing very little. I return to my mom’s house in time to cook dinner for everyone. I spend my parenting time trying to keep Charlotte from throwing one tantrum after the next. The changes of the past few weeks have been really hard on her. She misses home and our routine, and my parents are struggling to understand that this 2 year old who screams and cries at the drop of a hat is not our Charlotte on a normal day. She’s just out of sorts. Add a toy-stealing, jumping, finger/hair/anything-nibbling puppy to the equation and things get even harder.

I have yet to decide how I’m going to pursue my education. There are so many factors at play and every time I start to think about it, I get overwhelmed and shut down. I’m thinking of starting a program that will get me a BA in communications, but I’m torn. I’m also considering education (english language learner studies, maybe? I do live in a “sanctuary city” after all). I can tell you for certain that I have absolutely NO desire to return to the corporate world, but I do desire reasonable financial stability, health benefits and retirement savings options. I keep saying I’m going to look into career counseling, but I have yet to even do a google search. I’ll get there… not today, but soon. As soon as my body feels a bit less like it’s been run over by a garbage truck.

Today, I took Charlotte to school, cleaned out my car, dropped off some things at Goodwill, and now I’m getting my car washed. It all seems so basic. So Saturday. But it’s still before noon on a Wednesday. I have a to do list next to me that includes (among other more responsible things) items such as paint nails, tweeze eyebrows, find new brown mascara (they stopped making mine), and research deodorant. Who is this person? Is this real life?

The Unemployment Chronicles

It’s been a week since I quit my job. I’m still fielding daily questions from former bosses/colleagues who are trying to pick up the pieces after my abrupt departure, but honestly, I’m feeling pretty good about that. It’s nice to know that after 18 years there, it’s going to take longer than a week for someone to get a handle on what crosses my desk.

I was flying pretty high for the first few days after I quit. I mean, I was in shock, but I was also excited. So excited. I kept thinking that maybe this would be my chance to really do what I want with my life…

And it is, I suppose… or at least, it would be if I had any clue what I want to do with my life.

I casually mentioned opening a children’s play space to my mom and my cousin at lunch yesterday and they both looked at me like I was crazy. You’d have to deal with parents. Germs. Kids. Messes. Liability. I mean, yeah–but it could still be fun, right? No?

I could write the next Great American Novel. I like to write. Words are my friends. I have an acquaintance who quit her job to write romance novels and she’s actually starting to have some success. That particular daydream comes crashing to a halt at bedtime when Charlotte asks me to tell her a story and I get stuck after “Once upon a time…”

I like to make things, but something tells me I’m not going to make the same kind of money selling shit on Etsy that I did working a corporate marketing position.

I’m trying to focus on my strengths. What are my strengths? I mean, I am REALLY good at drinking coffee. Like, pro-level coffee drinking. Maybe even Olympic-level.

I’m also fantastic at procrastinating. Is there something that needs doing? I will find five hundred other things to do in the meantime. I am exceptionally great at that.

I’m great at making unrealistic to do lists. For example:

  1. Grocery store
  2. Dog food
  3. Car wash
  4. World peace
  5. Cure cancer
  6. Charlotte’s laundry

My mother thinks I should go into Human Resources. I think I would rather spend 40 hours a week cleaning up dog poop.

Catch wants me to go into teaching so that we can spend summers together. I actually think I’d enjoy teaching, but I don’t have enough time to get my education & experience to that level before I need to find full time employment again.

I can list a hundred things I don’t want when I go back to work, but I am really struggling to balance want with need. I want creativity, flexibility and teamwork. I need a solid paycheck and good benefits so that we can still afford our mortgage and preschool.

I’m going to attempt various self-inflicted challenges throughout this period of unemployment. First up is my writing challenge. I’m going to write for a minimum of 30 minutes at least 5 days a week. Maybe it’ll be a blog post and maybe it won’t, but I need to figure out what comes next, and while actual therapy is not in the budget right now, writing is free and almost as effective.

 

 

Let it go

I quit my job on Thursday in a blaze of fury. I went into a meeting with my boss and HR and realized as I sat there arguing with my arrogant, sexist boss about his inability to respond to emails that I was Done.

Next month would have been my 18th anniversary with that company. Literally half my life climbing that corporate ladder.

In an effort to deflect my accusation that his unresponsiveness prohibits me from advancing anything requiring a budget or a contract because per company policy, I don’t have the authority to spend a single cent or make any binding decisions without executive-level approval, my boss said, “You’re the director of marketing! Act like a director!” I interjected that I am NOT the director of marketing. He looked to HR and demanded, “That’s her title, isn’t it?!” HR said, “No, it’s not.”

So basically I’ve spent the last few years working for a guy who couldn’t be bothered to notice the title on the signature of every email I’ve ever sent him.

Anyway, the meeting got ugly. It involved a lot of him telling me to stop being defensive and to “get that smirk off your face.”

It was long and intense and we barely even scraped the surface of my issues with that man. When I was done being his personal scapegoat, I left that office, returned to my own, and left a message for the president of the company to call me. He returned my call most immediately, and I laid everything out on the table for him as I threw 18 years of my professional life into boxes. He tried to convince me to stay. He offered to have me report directly to him and to keep the other guy as far away from me as humanly possible. It was tempting, but I held my ground, left my key card on my desk, and walked out of there without hesitation.

So now what?

Well, step one is going to involve giving myself a bit of time and space to breathe and heal. It has been a long, hard year. I need to find my sea legs.

Step two involves going back to school.

I don’t broadcast it, but I never finished my bachelor’s degree. I’ll write more about that another day. It’s not something I’m proud of, but I’ve built a life I AM proud of regardless of that missing piece. I just realize that I have an opportunity right now and I’m going to take it.

Step three will be using my hands. I am so much happier when I’m creating, building, or fixing. I’ve spent 18 years sitting at a desk and I’m ready to get off my ass and get dirty.

Step four will be figuring out what comes next. I have time for that. Not unlimited time, but enough time to find what I’ve been missing. Teamwork. Collaboration. Respect.

I feel like I could write forever about the next chapter of my life, but I’ll stop here for tonight. When I closed that door behind me on Thursday, a hundred windows opened and I have some breathing to do now.