There, and here: A perspective on suburbs vs. small towns

It’s nearly been a year since moving from suburbia to small-town Iowa. It’s incredible how different life can be only 45 minutes away, especially considering we went from one of the wealthiest cities in the state to one of the poorest counties. Overall, we’re loving the slower pace of life and the stronger sense of community we feel here. We also think it’s important for our kids to grow up in a place where not everyone has everything they want and need.

We moved from a four-bedroom home that we custom built in a newer neighborhood to a three-bedroom 1960s ranch right across from a development of squeezed-together townhomes that I’m pretty sure are run by a slumlord and apartments that don’t always attract the kind of folks you want to invite over for a barbecue. Don’t get me wrong — we love our home and will love it even more when we can afford to update some rooms and finish the basement. But it was quite a change from there to here.

For instance, I used to stress out in our last house because we couldn’t afford to hire a lawn-care company or fertilize and water as much as many of our neighbors. I know our next-door neighbors with the perfectly manicured lawn LOVED it when our dandelion seeds blew into their yard and our creeping charlie crept on over their property line. But here? Well, considering just down the street there are several abandoned homes/meth labs, one of which has its windows broken out with the filthy, faded curtains still blowing in the wind, I don’t get too worried when our grass gets a little too long. We have all of our windows intact, so we are still lookin’ good.

In the suburbs, most people keep their drama confined to indoors. In the 10 years we lived there, I came to realize that some people put on a good show but then live ugly lives when no one’s looking. But we’re finding that in our new neighborhood, people aren’t much for putting on airs. Maybe it’s because the townhomes and apartments are so small that drama often gets played out in public. We’re not startled quite so much now when we hear curse words flying through the air from a nearby driveway or yard. And the cops have made our street part of their regular route. (I’ve only called them once!) My favorite was when an elementary-aged girl and her little brother were getting cussed out by their middle school-aged sister because they wanted her to take them to church. I later learned she has the F-word carved into her forearm. Classy.

Another fascinating difference I’ve noticed between there and here involves bicycles. In suburbia, cycling is a hugely popular recreational activity, with miles and miles of beautiful trails constructed and completed just within the past few years. It was impossible to drive through the city without seeing at least a dozen serious cyclists training for the next road race or just getting exercise with their expensive recumbent bike. Families, all donning their properly fitting bike helmets could be spotted nearly everywhere each evening or summer day, happily riding to the library or just tootling along to spend some quality time together.

That was there. But here? Yes, we see many bicycles, too. However, in many cases, the function of the bicycle has shifted from recreational to transportational. Sure, there are still kids riding bikes (although helmets are rare), and we have seen actual families riding together on an occasion or two. But for the most part, if you’re an adult riding a bike in town, it’s because either you don’t have a license or you don’t have a car. Usually it’s the jeans and cowboy boots that give it away. Not really popular biking attire. Or, in the instance of a man I saw last week, it’s the case of Michelob he is balancing on his hip. You don’t see that much on the Tour de France.

And although we did have a strolling guitar-playing gypsy spotted several different times in our last neighborhood, we did not live near a cross-dressing man who wears a tiara on his balding head and rides a little girl’s bike with pink tassels hanging from the handlebars. That’s something reserved for small-town residents, and something that we just accept (after the initial shock wears off).

The sounds here are different, too. There, we were right off a major road, so the noises of traffic were part of our daily soundtrack. Here, besides the intermittent fighting and cussing, we hear many more birds and animals, including a woodpecker that lives in one of our trees and coyotes that howl at the moon and the passing trains at night. One morning not too long ago I began to hear the sound of a rooster crowing. Kind of charming, in its own way. I figured that since we live on the edge of town, we must be able to hear it cock-a-doodle-dooing from one of the nearby farms a mile or so away. That is, until I took our Boston Terrier for a walk last week and saw the barnyard bird in someone’s backyard in the middle of town. No other animals, just the rooster. I wonder if the adjacent neighbors even have to set an alarm clock?

Even though life is more laid-back here, it’s never really dull. There’s always some interesting development if you just walk down the street or take a quick drive to the post office. I’m not trying to put down life in the suburbs at all. I did it for 10+ years and made great friends and memories. But I do believe it’s not for everyone. For some people, small towns are the only place you truly feel you’re “home,” roosters, booze-toting bicyclists and all.

 

 

 

 

When it’s hard NOT to write

Some say writing is hard. But sometimes not writing is even harder.

As I look back at the past year’s posts, I’m ashamed at how few there are. And as worn out those “sorry I haven’t posted lately” posts can be, I do feel compelled to reflect a little on my negligence.

When you’re a writer, you are intrinsically driven to share. And anyone who knows me personally knows I’m a sharer. Sometimes I share WAY more than a person cares to know about me, but I can’t help it. I put it all out there and allow people to make their own judgment about whether I’m refreshingly open or downright annoying.

When I started my blog, I loved having a place to share my family’s foibles, as well as my feelings and frustrations. And as I started receiving feedback from readers, we developed a weird kind of collective friendship, and I wanted to tell you even more. I wanted to stay up all night, eat graham crackers dipped in a can of frosting while “Friday Night Videos” blared from the TV, and tell each other everything.  I didn’t want to hold back; I wanted to be totally transparent. After all, that’s what friends do.

But I knew I couldn’t tell all. This weird collective friendship included some of you I’ve never met in real life and others I’ve known nearly all my life. And while I’m the type of person who isn’t bothered much by what people think of me, it isn’t just about me. I have three boys and a husband, as well as family and friends, and what goes on in my life involves — and affects — all of them. My story is not just my story to tell. And that’s become really hard.

With Boy #1 being in high school now, and Boys #2 and #3 being fifth and second graders, I have to be incredibly conscientious about what I share and think about how they will feel about it if people they know read it. And I would never want to say anything that would make my husband embarrassed or uncomfortable (although I’m sure I’ve done this more than once).

Over the past year and a half, we have gone through so many changes. Let’s see…I lost my job while my husband was on a month-long trip to Poland, we downsized and moved from a large new home in the suburbs to a smaller 1950s ranch in our small hometown, the boys had to adjust to new friends and a new school, I turned 40 (of course, without having lost the weight I’d wanted to)…and those are just a few of life’s recent stressors. We’ve also dealt with issues that I can’t write about right now, to be fair to my family. For someone like me to not share such big things in my life, it feels inauthentic. Fake.

Cue the anxiety.

Writing became something I dreaded because everything I tried to write just seemed trite or forced. It wasn’t what I really wanted to tell you all, so I did what I do best when my anxiety gets the best of me — I avoided. I avoided for a long stinkin’ time.

But lately I’ve found myself running across quotes about writing from all different sources, and one theme has seemed consistently highlighted, just for me.

To be a writer, you have to write.

That’s it. You have to write. Whether you feel like it or not, whether or not you know what to write about — you have to write. Every day, no excuses, no avoidance. And I figure now that I’m officially calling myself “a writer,” partly because that’s what I want to be and partly because I don’t want to have to find another job, I should probably follow that advice. I have to write.

So I am officially recommitting myself to this blog and to my career as a writer. I figure if I have the nerve to publish this post, I’m going to look pretty stupid if I don’t post again for another two months, so in that way you’re all holding me accountable. (Thank you very much.) And although I can’t say everything I want to say at this point in my life, I know the time will come when the stories can be told. It would be nice if I still had an audience left to read it when that happens. Until then, I will share what I can in ways that I hope you’ll find interesting and entertaining. Just know that when I do have to hold back, it’s nothing personal, friend.

 

 

The 2012 Small-Town 4th of July Parade Recap

If you want to get a good seat at my hometown 4th of July parade, you’ve gotta get there early. And hard-core parade junkies like me aren’t going to let a little heat get in the way of snagging those front-row (or front-curb) seats. So this year, Husband dropped me off uptown two hours early so, being the glutton for punishment I am, I could guard our regular spot, in front of Chris’ Photography and one of the too-many vacant storefronts on the north side of the square.

Loaded up with four chairs, a beach towel, water, sunscreen, candy bags for the kids, a book and a camera, I was a little surprised when I saw that there were still many curbside spots left. Then I glanced at the east side of the square, where the buildings and awnings provided shade for an already crowded group of parade watchers, and realized that this was because most people in town weren’t stupid. And apparently I was. No matter that it was already 98 degrees at 9:15 in the morning and that I was settling in for a good two hour sunbath before the parade even started. It was tradition to sit in this spot! Sure, we could never understand the parade emcee on the loudspeaker here; it wafted over in Charlie Brown’s teacher-esque “waah waaaahs.” And sure we had a perfect view (and if we were lucky enough to be downwind — smell) of the porta-potties across the street in the courthouse parking lot. But it was tradition. And we didn’t need a pretty view, or shade, or to be able to hear, in these here parts. We were tougher than those east-side dandies.

At 9:30, as I was wiping the sweat out of my eyes, I started to rethink tradition.

But fortunately for me, tradition was saved when Chris (of Chris’ Photography fame) opened up her shop and invited me to come guard my chairs with her in the comfort of her air-conditioning. She did not have to ask twice. If she hadn’t offered, I’m pretty sure when the rest of my family showed up at 11, all they would’ve found in my chair was a puddle, along with my corn-cob pipe and stove-top hat.

The parade provided some old favorites as well as some new additions. And as always, a few head-scratchers. For instance, we always have an abundance of old and classic cars. But apparently the definition of “classic” has become a bit liberal. If this is the standard, I’m pretty sure my 1976 Chrysler Cordoba with the robins egg blue “pleather” interior from high school would’ve looked pretty sweeeeet in the parade route… I’m not entirely convinced that this person wasn’t just trying to find a place to park.Coming in under “old favorites” were the walking Spam can (apparently getting a bit big for his aluminum britches now, he refuses to walk in the parade and demands to ride like royalty)…

the choreographed shopping cart routine performed by the Fareway grocery employees (I’ve heard tryouts are cut-throat!)…

and of course (we ARE in Iowa, folks!)…lots and lots of tractors.

“I don’t need no stinkin’ umbrella…I don’t care how hot it is!”

Wusses…

The kids tried to keep cool while darting around for candy. It was so hot that the bubble gum being thrown out by parade participants was already melted, which was as awesome as you imagine it was. Here my poor nephew, who was making his first appearance at our parade, tried to keep cool with a wet washcloth. Heat exhaustion, peat, uh, mexhaustion…it’s never too hot to celebrate our country’s freedom, people!

The poor saps giving away Freeze Pops in the parade never knew what hit them. Here, Boy #3 tries to eat his in the 3.4 seconds before it turned into hot grape sugar water.

I don’t think this poor guy realized he wasn’t really in the Civil War. Really, dude, we’re a free, united country now. You can just wear a pair of shorts and a tank top!

“If I don’t see at least one politically polarizing float, I swear I’ll jump!”

 

Whoa, man, take it easy! Here you go! (I don’t even think I get this one. Must mean I’m one of the “dummies”…)

You say you want to see animals? We’ve got animals! Nah, it wasn’t too hot for them. The marching band? Yes. A horse wearing a heavy saddle and carrying a 230-pound man for several miles on hot concrete? Nope.

(He was carrying a gun, so I don’t think the horses had much choice in the matter…)

Horses weren’t the only animals that paraded through town. We also saw goats…

and corn dogs…

Zac Galifianakis even made an appearance and showed off his karate ninja skills!

And of course, George was there. Who’s George, you ask? No idea. But he is counting on our vote. For what, I’m not sure either.

Like most parades, our town offers up some coveted awards every year for entrants.

And every year they win the “Best Use of Color” award.Those Red Had Ladies just think they’re soooo coool.

I think this float won the “Best Use of Duct Tape” award.

And my favorite parade entry this year, by far. In fact, I am bestowing my own award to them: “Most Enthusiasm.”

Are we having fun yet?

Thanks for reliving the 2012 4th of July Parade with me. Stay tuned for a review of our carnival!

Happy Independence Day!

Happy 4th of July, friends! I hope you’re all spending the day with your loved ones, exercising those freedoms that only America offers!

If you’ve been with me for a while, you probably know how I spend my 4th of July — hanging out in my hometown, which is also now my residence again. The parade…the fireworks…the carnival… I love it all. This morning I’m heading out to plunk myself in front of Chris’ Photography on the square, our “usual” spot, to watch the parade. It’s only supposed to be 103 degrees today, so this year I will have the delight of watching the parade dripping wet with sweat. YES!

I will be taking lots of photos so that I can share our small-town celebration with you. Until then, go ahead and enjoy one of my accounts of past Independence Day celebrations!

4th of July 2011

4th of July 2010

4th of July 2009

4th of July 2008

Getting there is half the fun

airplaneIt was finally here, the day I’d been anticipating since December 6, when I swallowed my fears and doubts and registered for the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop. I would be heading to Dayton, Ohio, where Erma lived and taught at Dayton University, to run elbows with the Bombeck family as well as some of the most talented and funniest writers in the country.

No, I wasn’t nervous or anything.

As I finished (Well, started and finished; it’s me, you know!) packing my bag late the night before I was to leave, I decided I should print out my flight itinerary. And that’s when I saw it…

Departure from DSM: 8:34 p.m.

Yes, it said “p.m.,” as in “not a.m.”

I will admit — I shouted a few words that Erma Bombeck probably would not have approved of. How could I have booked a flight for 8:34 p.m. instead of a.m., especially for a trip that I was so excited about?

I decided to go ahead and proceed as planned the next morning. Husband would drop me off at the airport (an hour away from home) on his way to work. Surely I could catch a standby flight. How many people could possibly be flying out of Des Moines, Iowa, on a Thursday?

So at 7:15 a.m. I trotted up to the United Airlines counter hopeful that the flight I had intended to book a seat on wasn’t full.

Of course it was. As were every other flight to Chicago that day.

The United representative was sympathetic, but her hands were tied. “This is very unusual,” she said. “I’m not sure what’s going on today, but every single flight is overbooked already. There are no standby-eligible flights at all.”

Of course there weren’t.

My optimism starting to fade, I got a little teary-eyed as I pictured the day that was ahead of me: hanging out for the next 12 hours in the airport just to board my flight and arrive in Dayton after midnight instead of meeting keynote speaker Alan Zweibel, of Saturday Night Live, Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm fame.

I even considered renting a car. It would only take me 10 hours to drive. But after finding that the large rental companies were all rented out (of course), and getting a quote from some fly-by-night rental car company for $500-some odd dollars for a one-way trip, I decided that probably wouldn’t be a smart choice.

So I made myself comfortable, wiped away my tears and settled in to get some work done while I had time to kill. Surely, that would make time go quickly.

10:18 a.m.

Crap.

Fortunately, Husband felt sorry for me, even though my own carelessness had gotten me into this mess, and offered to come pick me up at the airport to spend a few hours that afternoon in his classroom. At least I’d have a change of scenery. He even took me out for an early dinner after school got out before he dropped me back off at the airport and headed home. What a good guy.

Finally, after what felt like 12 hours (possibly because it was 12 hours), I boarded the itty-bitty plane for the first leg of my flight to Chicago.

The flight went smoothly, and we landed at Chicago on time.

And we waited. And waited. Finally, the pilot came on the loudspeaker and said, “Folks, we’re going to have to wait here for a while before we disembark. Seems that the computers are down at O’Hare, and they are having to do everything manually.”

Of course they are.

Nothing like being stuck on the runway of a teeny plane after 10:00 p.m. when by now I was supposed to be rubbing elbows with some of the funniest writers in the country. It was fantastic.

After my fellow hostages and I were finally released, I had to make a mad dash through O’Hare to catch my flight to Dayton. And when I finally found my gate, I was told that they’d reassigned us to a different gate, clear across O’Hare, because of the computer issues.

Of course they had.

So I pulled up my big-girl pants and ran, once again, to my gate. Something was finally in my favor — sort of. The computer malfunctions had delayed all of the flights, so even though I was late, I hadn’t missed the plane. But it did mean I would get in even later than I was supposed to.

Yippee.

By this time, I was completely disheveled and could barely think straight. All I wanted to do was get to my hotel, catch some sleep and be ready to actually participate in the workshops the next day.

When we touched down in Dayton, I will admit, I got teary-eyed again. This time, they were happy tears. Or tears of exhaustion, I’m not entirely sure which. I got off the plane and followed my flight-mates through the eerily deserted airport to the baggage claim area. As I waited, and waited . . . and waited for my brown suitcase to roll past me, I started to get a sinking feeling. No, it couldn’t be…

When the conveyer belt finally stopped, three of us were still standing, bagless and hopeless. We asked the only worker we could find what we were supposed to do, and he ushered us into his office to fill out the “lost luggage” paperwork.

I was the last one to fill out my forms, and by the time I was finished, the airport was completely closed. Fortunately, the guy helping me was friendly, and after telling me that the hotel I was staying in didn’t have shuttle service this late (It was after 1 a.m., after all), he walked me out to the cab stand. I was literally the last customer to leave the airport.

Of course I was.

I climbed into a minivan with an angry-looking young man who seemed not at all happy with his life behind the wheel, and I went the 20-minute ride in the dead of night in complete silence, thinking, “I’m pretty sure this is how some women end up dead.”

After arriving at the hotel and paying my friendly cabbie $40, I nearly collapsed at the front desk, happy to finally be there but wishing I actually had some luggage to accompany me. I gave the person at the counter my name and explained that I had called in earlier and told them I would have a late (extremely late) arrival. And she proceeded to tap the keys on her computer for way too long, her brow furrowed in a look that said, “I don’t dare tell this crazed woman that we gave away her room.” A Seinfeld-esque moment indeed. (“You see, you know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to keep it.”)

Finally, after literally 10 minutes, she came up with a room for me. At that point, I would’ve probably slept in the linen closet, (Maybe I could make a toga out of sheets to wear the next day, too!) but it was a room. A real room. Next, I asked her if they had any toiletries I could have since my luggage was MIA. I did have a toothbrush and makeup in my carry-on, but no deodorant, hairspray, anything else of that nature. She looked a little flustered, went into the back room, and came back with a little baggie of toiletries for me.

“I’m sorry,” she said, “but we only have men’s deodorant.”

Of course you do.

“I’ll take it,” I said.

When she handed me my room key, I looked at it and laughed: 665. Yep, I was about as close to hell as you could get.

After having to sleep completely in the nude (which is not something I’m extremely comfortable with, if you couldn’t guess) so I could wear my clothes again the next morning, I woke up after a restful three hours of sleep and realized why I’d scored that room: the thermostat didn’t work. The only two temperatures were frigid and sweat-your-ass-off, even if you only adjusted the temperature by one degree.

But no matter. Finally, I’d made it. And even though I had to put on dirty underwear after I’d showered, along with a T-shirt that was completely wrinkled and had evidence of various airport foods all over it, and even though I had to comb through my wet hair with my fingers and smell like an old man with my Speed Stick deodorant — I’d made it, dammit.

And I had to think, as I rode down the elevator to start my day, that Erma would’ve made a good story out of this.

Airplane photo credit 

How to make a perfect May Basket

Mayday! Mayday!

Okay, really, this year I actually anticipated May Day. I knew that April was nearing an end. I remembered that May came next (I’m smart like that). I  wrote on my To-Do list: Buy stuff for May baskets. I had even planned to troll Pinterest to see what cool ideas I could steal.

Yet here it is, May 1 . . . and I’ve got nothin’.

Why break tradition, huh?

I mean, it’s not like I think we’re the most popular family in town or anything. It’s not like I expect to be showered with May Day gifts from our admiring fans. But every year, just when I think we’ve got to be on the bottom of people’s lists and that my boys are old enough now that no one’s going to think of them . . . I find five beautifully crafted baskets with just the right popcorn-to-candy ratio sitting on our doorstep.

Dang those do-gooders.

This year I thought it might be nice to make May Baskets for some older people, since two-thirds of my boys are past the age where it’s cool to give them out to their friends. There are some older couples who live by us now, the kids’ great-grandma lives in town, and we are just across the street from a group home for mentally disabled adults. I thought it would be a nice surprise for them, and I thought it would be good for the boys to do something kind for people who are different from them.

As always, I am awesome at good intentions. Actual implementation and follow-through? Notsomuch.

So this year after once again scrounging around to see what I can scrape together for this holiday that I’m fairly certain only exists to make mothers like me feel inadequate, I have included my instructions for putting together a May Basket with things you already have around your house. I hope this helps you make it a memorable May Day for you and your family. (You’re welcome.)

How to Make a Perfectly awful Redneck May Basket

1. Your car, minivan or monster truck is a treasure trove for finding that perfect “basket” part of the May Basket. Collect all of the 32-oz Big Gulp fountain drink cups you can find lying on the floor or in the backseat. Styrofoam is kind of nice because you can have your kids scratch the recipient’s name into the cup with their fingernail, but if you can only find plastic, a Sharpie marker will do the trick. Rinse the cup. Punch two holes at the top of the cup so they are across from each other. Don’t have a hole punch? Just poke a pencil through. It’s all good. For the handle, you can either use some leftover Christmas ribbon you’ve stashed in the basement or dental floss. Voila! You’ve got yourself a basket!

2. Now you need “filler.” Popcorn is kind of the go-to filler. But if you didn’t get talked into buying 47 bags of Boy Scouts popcorn like some of us, look in the back of your cereal cupboard. This is where you’ll find that cereal you bought six months ago that’s still 3/4 full because no one really liked it. But you had the insight not to throw it out for just such an occasion as this. Dump some in each May Basket. Chances are, it’s one of those “healthy” cereals, so you’re not only providing filler, but you’re providing 34 grams of fiber to boot. Promoting colon health is always important when crafting a May Basket…

3. Grab those Easter baskets from on top of the fridge and see what’s still left. Hard peeps, stale marshmallow bunnies and even partially eaten chocolate eggs will work (just cut off the part your kids ate). Throw them in the May Basket.

4. Open your baking cupboard (it’s that one you haven’t opened in about 9 months) and find the containers of sprinkles, silver balls and those hard red hot candies you’ve kept in there for five years because every Christmas you are definitely going to participate in the Christmas cookie exchange at church. Dump some of each in the Basket.

5. Individually wrapped chicken or beef bouillon cubes look festive and are practical as well. Next time your recipient is making Beef & Noodles and runs out of beef broth, she’ll think of you!

6. You undoubtedly have several packets of different types of sauce mix for a meal that you thought you’d make but never have. Au jus, alfredo, pesto, enchilada sauce, even a meatloaf spice mix — any of these will do. Just tuck it in the Basket.

7. Condiment packets. Ketchup, hot sauce, mustard, mayo. Surely you have some in the fridge from your last few fast food takeout meals. Add those, too.

8. Check the cupboard where you keep your medication and find all of those sample packages of Tylenol, Advil Sinus, Dulcolax or Tums that you collected when they were handing them out at Wal-Mart. (The Tums will probably come in handy after they’ve finished eating the contents of the May Basket. This shows you’re thinking ahead and putting a lot of thought into their basket.)

9. For a little added flavor and color, grab a couple of those individually wrapped prunes you bought that time you were really constipated and throw them on top.

10. Now, so they know it’s from you (After all, you’ll want to make sure you get credit for this!) grab either your sticky notes that say “McCain-Palin 2008” or “Al’s Septic Service” and write “Happy May Day!” and sign yours and your kid’s name. Then just stick it to the side of the cup.

I guarantee, you’ll be the talk of the town.

Image by Will Merydith

Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop — I’m not worthy!

Tomorrow morning I board a plane bound for that popular tropical resort destination, Dayton, Ohio, to attend the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop.

Erma Freakin’ Bombeck.

Now, mind you, I didn’t have to “qualify” to attend. I merely had to man my laptop on December 6, when tickets for this conference went on sale, and be one of the first couple hundred individuals to purchase a pass before the event sold out. Which it did.

And as I prop my eyelids open this morning and get ready to substitute teach in a fourth grade classroom while visions of dirty laundry and unpacked suitcases dance in my head, I begin to think, “Who am I to attend this elite writer’s conference?” Seriously?! What was I thinking?

Humor writers from all over the country will be there. They’ve published best-selling books, written for Saturday Night Live, contributed columns to national newspapers…

And then, there’s me.

I have a recurring nightmare that when I check in at registration tomorrow afternoon, they’re going to ask me for the secret humor writers’ handshake. I’ll try some lame fist bump and then “blow it up” at the end, and everyone will then know that I am a fraud. “She’s no humor writer!” “Kindly escort her to the door!”

So provided I don’t get outed and arrested by the humor writers’ police, I’ll let you know how it’s going…

*Gulp!*

 

 

 

The humility in a crappy dog

DogAs I begin typing the phrase, “Has this ever happened to you?” I realize that it is probably a moot question. Either you don’t live in a disgusting house like I do, or you’re too smart to admit it publicly. That’s cool. I respect that.

But as I am apparently not too smart to publicly air my shameful ways, I will go ahead with my story…

I’m running late to volunteer reading to needy children deliver the print-outs of Rhode Island’s state bird, tree and flower (red rooster, red maple and violet if you’re wondering) that my own needy child forgot to mention he needed until we were leaving the house this morning. I was writing like a fool all morning, frantically trying to finish projects by their deadline for once, and I didn’t even get to jump into the shower until after noon.

Growing up on a farm helped me perfect my get-ready-in-5-minutes-or-less routine. Because there was always a drought or an impending drought looming, we could only fill the bathtub with enough water so that the bottom of the tub was just barely covered. As soon as the water reached the back of the tub, we had to wrench those knobs to the right as fast as we could or risk the dreaded “wasting water” lecture. (Believe me, no one wants to hear that.)

Needless to say, when you’re bathing in barely a 1/2 inch of water, you’re not going to lay back and linger.

And don’t get me started on how pointless it is to try to add bubbles.

But never relaxing in the tub for fear of frostbite conditioned me to now shower quickly and efficiently. And, let’s face it, I don’t have a lot to work with, so beautifying myself after the shower doesn’t take long either.

So this morning afternoon, I was in and out of the shower, dried my hair, brushed my teeth and was finally feeling fresh and human when I opened the door and stepped out of the bathroom.

And felt something squish beneath my foot.

And saw my dog sitting nearby with a sheepish look in his eyes.

Nothing like stepping out of the bathroom all fresh and clean right into a freshly laid turd.

Why does my dog see our home as his toilet?

The part of me that likes to look on the bright side and see the best in everyone (and everydog) thinks that maybe it’s because the dog is too timid and polite. He doesn’t want to disturb us to let us know that it’s indeed potty time. He lets us go about our business while he does his in the hall.

He just doesn’t want to be a bother.

Maybe he somehow inherited it from me, the one who never wants to speak up or put anyone out.

The one who walked into her fourth grade classroom on her birthday (of all days), threw up on the floor and then proceeded to wait my turn for 5 minutes in the line that snaked around Mrs. Mattock’s desk to tell her that I just threw up. (5 minutes ago.)

However, when examining this theory I have to remind myself that the dog not only poops inside when we’re busy doing other things, but also right after we’ve taken him outside and walked around for 5 minutes precisely for that reason.

So maybe it’s not that he’s just too nice to interrupt our lives.

Which, frankly, makes me feel a little better. He would have to be pretty dumb to think that taking him outside to do his deed would be more of a bother than scraping his deed off my foot.

At least he’s not dumb.

Lazy?

Aye, there’s a possibility. And we’ll throw “poorly trained” into the ring as well.

Crap, why does it always fall back on me? (Literally.)

But on the bright side (because there always is one), it’s hard not to be humble when your cleaning dog poop from between your toes…