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This Post Has Nothing To Do With Bolivia

Everything about today is frustrating. Irritating, annoying, anxiety-producing. I think it has something to do with the fact that I started my period today. Or else it’s because it’s Wednesday and I’ve already had it up to HERE with everything. Or it’s because I haven’t exercised in an entire week (if you don’t count the 45 minutes of yoga I squeezed in yesterday.) Of course it could have something to do with the fact that I feel like all I ever do is work work work work work work work work work and yet there is always more more more more more more more more more more work to do. And by work I don’t just mean paid work, I mean laundry and dishes and bills and dog walks and vacuuming and shaving my legs and everything. Life just feels so dreadfully exhausting sometimes.

Yes, I know, these are first world problems. I’m lucky. I have a job. I chose to have four pets. Blah blah. But for once I’d just like to have one. week. of nothing. One week where I could just … rest. Without feeling guilty. Without email. Without nagging phone calls. Without knowing that at the end of the week I’ll have to pay for my rest in the pile of emails/bills/laundry/dog hair. Is that really too much to ask? Apparently it is.

No, Bolivia didn’t count as a restful vacation. There was too much hiking and not enough eating. Literally. We were hungry most of the time. At least I was.

In other news, Valentine FINALLY got her bandage off on Monday afternoon. Remember when I said her injury was minor? I’ve changed my mind about that. When an injury requires FIVE doctor visits, two rounds of anti-biotics, and two rounds of pain medication, it is not minor. But, as of Monday, she’s been declared mostly well. No more bandage, no more meds. She has to wear the lampshade hat for another five days and she can’t have a bath for another week, which is horrible because she smells so awful even I can barely stand to be around her (and I usually really like her stink-doggy smell) but other than that, she’s doing very well.


She’s totally over the lampshade hat.

Michael has spent all this week crashing classes at our local junior college, trying with all his might to cobble together a full load for the semester. Did I ever tell you about the time he went to sign up for classes on his assigned registration day and he discovered that every. single. class at the school was already full? And the wait lists were full too? This is due to the fact that we’ve cut our budgets for school, so the schools don’t have any classes, even though there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of students needing classes. Welcome to education budget cuts! Cheers for the legislature and government and yadda yadda! So glad we’re not raising taxes. Budget cuts makes SO MUCH MORE SENSE. I mean, what the fuck is education anyway? Like that bullshit is important.


Mike texted me this photo of HALF of the line of people waiting to get added to Anatomy yesterday. The head of the department was there and told the waiting people, “Hey! This isn’t bad! There’s not so many of you.” That isn’t bad? No, no, I guess it isn’t bad. IT IS FUCKING APPALLING. Fortunately, by some sort of miracle, Mike’s name was one of the four names the teacher pulled from her purse (she didn’t have a hat, so she put everyone’s name IN HER PURSE) and so he will most likely be able to add. He’s also managed to get into Spanish II. That’s two classes for the semester. Out of six he has crashed. Which is good, you know I don’t want to complain or anything, even though at this rate it will take him four years to get through a two year program. But whatever. It’s not like there’s a job market anyway.

Do you see? I’ve had it up to HERE with EVERYTHING.

The good news (for me) is that I’ve actually stopped feeling all self-conscious about my Bolivia posts and have begun to really enjoy writing them. When I have time to write them. They take FOREVER. I am so long-winded, I know. I go on and on. But the fact that you read my ramblings at all means a lot to me. I swear, sometimes I feel like y’all are the best thing I have going for me. And of course, my husband. And my family. And these guys:

ridiculously cute

TAKE A PICTURE OF ME! says the wiener.

Yeah, all right, so life isn’t that bad. Whatever.

Sweet Sweet Valentine


Poor little thing.

Last weekend Dopey, Kim, and I all got together for a lady blogger dinner. We met at my place and that is when it got complicated.

You see, my beloved, loyal, sweet, smart little Valentine does not take too kindly to household guests, especially if she’s never met them before. She doesn’t bite or anything (she doesn’t have any teeth to bite with), she just goes absolutely berserk when she hears someone coming up to the door. Absolutely berserk as in, uncontrollable, out of her mind, unconscious crazy. This is something we’ve been trying to train her out of for all the six years we’ve lived with her, with no success. Now we just try to ignore it, hoping that if it doesn’t garner a reaction she’ll give it up. We tell guests walking in that, “the little dog will act psycho for about five minutes. Ignore her. She’ll be asking for a belly rub before you know it.” Because that’s usually how it works.

On this night, Dopey and I were sitting out on the balcony when Kim pulled up in front of my building. Valentine was in Dopey’s lap and when I called hello to Kim, I saw the dog’s nostrils flare and her ears stand to attention. The dog heard Kim’s footsteps on the stairs and went balls-out ape shit, literally throwing herself off of Dopey’s lap, landing on the floor of the balcony with such a loud thud that even Kim heard it. V-dawg looked a little stunned, but stood up and went right on back to barking like a frothy-mouthed maniac. I ran downstairs to let Kim in and warn her to ignore the hysterical barking. When we came back inside the apartment, Valentine was doing what she normally does, charging Kim’s legs and barking like she meant it. That was when I noticed the blood spatter all over the carpeting. Of course, I didn’t realize what it was at first. Why is the carpet covered in red polka dots? I wondered out loud. Ohhhhhhhhh shiiiiiiiiiiit. Ladies, looks like we won’t be getting dinner for a while. Anyone want to drive us to the emergency vet?


on the dopey ambulance

This is where I’d like to say that I have two of the best blogger girlfriends ever. Were they starving? Yes. Was our evening being taken over by a broken toenail? Yes. Did they care? Not at all. They just wanted to make sure Valentine was okay. Dopey grabbed my purse and the leash, Kim cleaned up the blood, and off we went.

The minute Valentine was in my arms she was completely subdued. She was perfectly still and quiet the whole way to the vet’s office. When we arrived, Dopey filled out paperwork so I could hold her. She was starting to shake, but she always gets the shakes at the vet. A vet tach came in and weighed her, took her temperature, listened to her heart and her lungs, told us her vitals were all good. This wound was not serious, she explained. Very painful, but not serious. They’d just need to clip the nail off and we’d be on our way home.

broken toenail

Toenails should not stick out at that angle. Ouch.

After the tech took Valentine into the back so the doctor could work on her, Dopey and Kim helped keep me calm by telling jokes, live tweeting the event, and taking photos like this:

is there something on my shirt

Do I have anything on my shirt?

The light-hearted banter worked, too. I was a little on edge, worried, but I was okay. Until suddenly I wasn’t. Kim was telling us a story about something, I can’t remember what now, because somewhere in the periphery of my hearing there was an animal screaming. One minute I was listening to Kim and the next minute my arms and legs were tingling and my vision was all swimmy and gray at the edges. A thought floated into my head: What’s happening to her?

“Is that Valentine screaming?” asked Dopey, horrified.

I leapt up and ran into the nurse’s station. “Is that Valentine screaming?” I asked, adrenaline soaring through me.

“No, ma’am. That is not your pet. That is a dog who ate snail bait. He’s in a lot of pain and we’re doing everything we can for him. But it’s not your pet. Your pet is with the doctor and she’s going to be just fine.”

After that, we three girls were pretty sober, saying little prayers for the dog who ate snail bait. We were lucky. Our little dog was going to be just fine. And she was. Is.

The broken toenail left a nerve exposed in her foot, so she’s in a lot of pain, even now, five days later. We’ve got her on anti-biotics and two kinds of pain medication, so she’s a little loopy. When we tried to take her for her first walk post-injury, we couldn’t help but laugh at the stoned little dog who couldn’t seem to remember why we were outside. She sat in the grass leaning so far to one side I thought she’d  tip over, staring sleepy-eyed over the edge of the e-collar, until her feet finally slid out from under her. Then she just lay there, staring up at us, looking very pathetic and miserable.

awfully pathetic

We think that when Valentine fell out of the chair, she caught her toenail on the edge and ripped it out. This maniacal barking at guests is clearly more than just an irritating behavioral issue – it’s dangerous to the little dog. If anyone can recommend a dog trainer in the West Valley who can help us train her to stay calm when guests come over, we’d really like the help.

Play Date


Hey Theo. Your ears smell funny. Wanna play?


Yeah, yeah! Let’s play! Totally!


Time out! Let’s rub our faces on the carpet!

Yes! The carpet smells funny!


Theo? Dude. Where’d you go?


Rawr! I got you! Ha! I totally took you by surprise! Rawr!


(dramatically) Oh! You got me! I’m dying!

Yeah! I got you! You’re dying! Rawr!


Whoa. Your butt smells funny.



The dogs do this thing where they have to get up and go on patrol. Valentine will be worrying a toy when she’ll hear something and freeze, ears erect, nostrils twitching. She’ll drop her toy on my belly and trot back and forth in circles around us, until she’s sure we are safe. Then it’s Theo’s turn. He’ll have watched her make her rounds and when she’s through he heaves himself up with a grunt and scuffles the dozens of dachshund steps between my feet and my chin to check in, lick my face.


I’ll scritch him behind the ears for a while as he breathes hot puppy breath in my face.


When he’s certain I’m ok (or when he’s accepted the fact that I’m not dead yet and no, he can’t eat me), he’ll walk around the top of my head, back down towards my feet… (it’s a long way for a wiener)



Then he’ll drop  to his side with a thud and a sigh, his job complete.



Little guardian lapdogs.


Happiness is…


Licking up the last of the cottage cheese.


It’s so windy today! And also, it’s 85* and oh-so-sunshiney, so I am not complaining about the wind, not one little bit. It’s a gorgeous day in the valley and I wish I could spend it frolicking outdoors, but instead I’m cooped up with my face pressed against a computer. Bummer.

There’s a lot of life going on right now and I’m very tired and anxious and exhausted so how about we don’t talk about anything else today and just take a break to look at some wieners?


Maybe if I lay real still, she’ll give me some cheese?


He’s awfully pretty for someone that eats poo and likes it.

And let’s not forget this one:



A Dog and Her Bone

Here’s Valentine, guarding a horse vertebrae we found while camping in Utah this summer, during our cross-country drive.


That’s what it looks to actively wish you had hands, thumbs,
and the ability to walk upright on two legs

I put it on the floor while I was dusting so I wouldn’t forget to vacuum it out (it was stuffed with dead leaves from it’s tenure in the campground) and Valentine decided it was hers. She tried to carry it into her crate, only it was too big for her mouth. She’d pick it up, then drop it, then pick it up, then drop it, then try to pick it up again, only to drop it once more. (Apparently, Chihuahua/Terrier mutts aren’t designed to eat horses.) Finally she gave up and decided instead to sit and guard it. When I finally took it away from her she growled low in her throat, then ran off with her tail between her legs. It’s so cute when she tries to be ferocious.

Motel 6

Our building was built in 1987, so it’s just new enough that it lacks any of the old-timey charm our previous homes have had and it’s just old enough that everything in it is slightly tacky. It’s not that it isn’t nice enough. It’s nice enough. I thought it was really shabby when we first moved in, but now that I’ve scrubbed the whole place down – I’m not kidding, I had to use steel wool in the showers and a pumice stone on the toilet – I see that it’s not shabby, it just looks like an eighties-era Motel 6.

I think that’s what we’ll call this place. The Motel. It’s significant because this home is only temporary.  Sure, we’ll be here for a few years, three, four, five maybe, but as soon as we can buy a house we’ll be outey like gouty.  What?

We got this place for two hundred bucks below our budget, and it has nearly everything we wanted except hardwood/laminate flooring. It’s carpeted, but I think it might be the original carpeting from 1987, so when Theo rubs his ass on it I don’t feel as bad. Of course I want to get the dog butt-smear out of the carpeting, but I don’t feel guilty about it.

When we were apartment hunting we looked at this really nice condo just a few blocks from where we live now. It was only a one-bedroom and it was more expensive than the Motel, but it had a brand new washer and dryer in unit. It only had two windows, but it had a washer and dryer, a dishwasher, and a walk-in closet. We were so excited to see it. We walked in and the owner greeted us at the door, smiled warmly, held out his hand, and asked us to take off our shoes.

This is my biggest pet peeve. I understand why people want you to take your shoes off in their house, I get the logic behind it completely. But when I have had no advance warning and my toenails are all scabby looking and my feet stink because I’ve been wearing heels all day, and I walk into a stranger’s home and they ask me to take my shoes off, it is all I can do not to turn and run in the opposite direction.  Also? Mike and I and our five animals have no business renting a condo from people who want us to take our perfectly clean shoes off before we walk into the condo we are trying to rent.

If I lived in that condo I would spend the next five years having a panic attack whenever Theo wiped his ass on the floor. In the Motel I don’t have to sweat it because the landlady didn’t even charge us a pet deposit. She actually used the words, “I do not care about the carpeting,” when we mentioned our animals. Not that we’re not going to take care of the carpet, because dear me, we are, we absolutely are. I cannot live with dog ass in my carpeting. I will scrub every unsightly stain, I just won’t feel guilty over it.

Does that make sense?

Close Call

my wiener

I was chopping tomatoes at the kitchen counter just before family dinner the other night, when I heard my brother yelling, “Where’s the wiener? Where’s the wiener?”

The fencing in my parent’s yard is just wide enough that both little dogs can slip through without any effort at all. The first day we were home we found Valentine sniffing around in the front yard of the house across the street and down two. An hour later we caught Theo lapping water out of the next-door neighbor’s pool. As a result, those little dogs are no longer allowed in the backyard unattended.

On this particular evening, I’d spent the entire day working in the yard with the dogs off leash and they hadn’t tried to go through the fence, not once. When I went inside to chop tomatoes, I didn’t think anything of leaving them alone in the yard. They’d done nothing but sleep in the sun all day and I could see them right through the kitchen window. It wasn’t like they were going to slip through the fence while I watched.

But I wasn’t watching the little dogs asleep on the shearling cushion. I was watching the tips of my fingers. So when Ty started yelling, “Where’s the wiener? Where’s the wiener?” my heart leapt into my throat. Most likely drowned in the neighbor’s pool, I thought, because I am the worst dog-mother in the world. I dropped the knife and ran into the yard.

“Wiener! Wiener! Wiener!” Ty yelled.

I joined in, “Theo! Theo! Theo!”

Nothing. Not a sound.

Usually when I call Theo, the tags on his collar jingle. He doesn’t always come right away, but at least his tail starts wagging, and on that hot dog body of his, a little tail wagging goes a long way. His butt gets going and the movement travels down his long spine and his tags jingle till they sound like church bells to my worried ears. But not that night.

That night we called him and called him and the yard was silent. We ran around the yard, our calls getting louder and more frantic, but he was nowhere. I rounded the side of the house and there he was, safe and sound under the roses, happily eating a pile of shit like it was a fresh london broil. I couldn’t kiss him for a week.

Dark and Twisty

Oh man, you guys. I am in a rough spot. There is a lot of anxiety happening all up in my shiz. Lots of teeth grinding and fingernails raking and brows furrowing. My face hurts from all the frowning I’ve been doing in the last three days. I have got to lighten up. I want to, I really do, I am trying to stay positive, but I am seriously bumming out.

What do you do when you get into this kind of head space? Like, when you just. feel. lonesome. And a little bit worthless. And like kind of a failure.

I know it’s silly, I really do. There are people in the world who really are alone, and who are sick and starving and cold. And I’m fine. I’m living in suburbia and I have a fantastic job and a wonderful family, I know. I am blessed. But tonight I feel sad and lonely and scared and confused. And I just need a friend. Someone to listen while I cry and then say something stupid so I’ll laugh.

I hate it when Mike works nights. I hate that it rained and was dreary all day. I hate that I’m doing a job I don’t know how to do. I hate that Valentine had to have six teeth pulled out of her head.

Fine, there it is. My big shameful secret. One of many. We never had Valentine’s teeth cleaned, not the whole time we were in New York, and she started spitting out teeth a couple of months ago, and as a result of our negligence that poor little dog has no front teeth.

How is she supposed to be ferocious with no front teeth?

It’s shameful, it really is. It’s shameful that I didn’t take better care of her and it’s shameful that I just spent a months worth of savings on a doggy dental visit. And its shameful that I’m upset about the amount of money I spent. It’s all just terribly shameful.

And also the weather and Mike working nights and not knowing how to do my job. I want to know how to do it, I really do. I would absolutely love to know how to do my job, to be good at it. That’s what’s killing me. The feeling like I’m a giant stupid idiot who can’t do anything right. A giant stupid incapable idiot who can’t do anything right and doesn’t take care of her dogs.

And it’s pouring rain and gray and cold and I miss Mike. I haven’t seen him, except in passing, since Sunday. I hate having opposite schedules. I wish we could just run away together and disappear on a sunny beach somewhere on an island in the middle of the ocean. Somewhere where the sun shines year-round and the weather never drops below eighty except at night when the air is cool and crisp. Somewhere where we wouldn’t have any obligations except to relax in the sun while unicorns dance under rainbows at the edge of the sea and Valentine chases them with a mouth full of healthy teeth.

I keep telling myself that the dog will be ok with six less teeth, that I’ll learn how to do the things I’m being taught, that Mike and I will realign our schedules so we have more time together. That this is all temporary. And it helps to get it off my chest, out into the open. I feel a little bit better now. Lighter. A little bit hopeful. So thank you. Seriously. Thank you.