Monday, March 24, 2008

Dear Leasing Office...

I am a current resident of Connor Farms Aparment Complex. I realize that you are employees of the management company that took over about halfway though my time at this complex (NTS), and I realize that with a new management company comes changes, so I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all that you've done since you've been in charge.

Thank you for your superb work in de-icing the complex during the cold winter months. Most people would see your approach of leaving the ice on the roads and sidewalks until the sun has a chance to melt it as irresponsible, but I see that as an ingenius way to save money. After all, the only people who are out before the sun is up are people who work 40 hours per week and really, how many of those can there be? And surely people ALWAYS obey the speed limit signs posted in the complex...20mph isn't fast enough to slide on ice and cause an accident, right?

You did plow the complex promptly, though. I will give you that. I just think that perhaps the decision to pile the snow behind the cars parked in the parking spaces may not have been the best idea. Luckily I can see that you're just looking out for your residents' best interest by encouraging them to buy an AWD SUV to be prepared for those snowy Indiana winters. Lord knows the rent you're charging is so low, all residents can afford a higher car payment.

And thanks for ignoring the weather report that predicts below-freezing temperatures the night after a good rain. There's no need to put salt down when there's only a possibility of ice, right? Surely those weather forecasters have no idea what they're talking about. Besides, freezing temperatures don't really matter when the precipitation is already on the ground, do they? What's the worst that could happen? That pesky black ice on the sidewalks will only affect dog walkers in the morning, and if they break a leg, maybe they'll have to get rid of their dogs.

Speaking of dogs in the complex, I would like to mention how much I really appreciate your smooth transition from the openly dog friendly policy of the previous management company to your own somewhat less open policy about dogs. I can only assume that you're eventually not going to allow dogs at all. Personally, I think this passive aggressive approach to changing the policy works MUCH better than just straightforward communication with residents who have lived in the complex with their dogs for years. Specific examples that I find particularly ingenius include:

- Installing doggie trash bag dispensers and then not refilling them when they are empty (added bonus points for telling residents that the bags are "on order" when they call to inquire about this issue. Luckily, this "on order" idea is completely valid for up to 8 months at a time.)
- Removing all trash cans located around the complex during the winter so that they won't "get filled with rainwater or snow" and dog owners have nowhere to put the dog waste that is picked up.
- Sending out threatening letters when dog owners aren't picking up their dog waste after not providing bags or trash receptacles for this purpose.
- Increasing pet costs mid-lease, and adding additional pet fees "per pet" when previously there was one flat rate paid at the beginning of the lease.

I also particularly enjoy your approach to apartment maintenance. Luckily I have plenty of time during the workday to call your office several times to speak to a leasing agent after learning that my messages will not be returned. My job is not that important...I would much rather be on hold listening to the recorded message telling me about the great apartment community in which I live. I also appreciate when I submit a maintenance request and specifically mention that the maintenance person must contact me to arrange a time to enter the apartment (due to the aforementioned dogs - one in particular) only to have the maintenance men enter my apartment at will and leave a note about how nothing could be inspected due to the presence of dogs. Once we get that all straightened out, it's particuarly comforting when I report potential fire hazards, and after an initial inspection of the problem the maintenance men never return to correct the issue. It's exciting when I report the issue again, only to have the process repeated with a NEW maintenance person. It's like a thrilling game of "guess who will show up next." And don't worry, I have no problem submitting the same request multiple times. I just think that ten is a little excessive, don't you?

On the upside, I really appreciate the monthly "Resident Appreciation Weeks." I can only assume that the free breakfasts and pizza dinners are wonderful to attend. Scheduling them on weekdays between the hours of 9:00am and 5:00pm is a great idea. EVERYONE should be in the apartment complex during those hours. After all, what else would they be doing?

I received the letter you posted on my door about renewing our lease. Unfortunately, I regret to inform you that I will not be renewing my lease for another year. Despite all the wonderful policies in place at your complex, I believe my needs will be better met elsewhere. Thank you for providing a standard of competence that will never be equaled.

Sincerely, Emily

PS. I have no idea who has been leaving bags of dog waste in front of the door to the leasing office. I would think that perhaps when the trash cans are replaced, that issue will end. Maybe you should just be grateful that they're not being left in the rent drop box.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Happy Easter!

Enjoy it with the ultimate Peep show...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Surprising depth of emotion

So, I put off writing this blog because A) I couldn't think of a way to say what I was thinking without sounding ridiculously dumb, and B) I didn't want to jinx anything. This might still be ridiculously dumb, but it's been over a month now, so I'm pretty sure I'm not jinxing anything.

On February 15th, Casey had a seizure. I did not see the seizure. It happened in the middle of the night. I was awakened to the sounds of Casey crying and frantically digging to get out of her crate. Since she's normally so well behaved, I was a little alarmed. Still, I got out of bed and put on my sweats thinking she just needed to go out.

When I let her out of her kennel, I noticed that she sort of weaved to the right. But "the right" was also towards my bedroom, so I thought she was just trying to pull a fast one and sneak into bed with us.

"No Casey. Let's go potty."

I opened the door to let her out and almost had a heart attack. Here's where the side effects of the seizure were really apparent. My normally energetic, bounding, excited dog was walking along the side of the porch railing to hold herself upright. It looked like she had gotten a hold of the boyfriend's Jack Daniels. I watched her, speechless with surprise.

When she got to the end of the porch, and there was no more railing to support her, she stumbled to her right and into the grass. It was at this point that she saw another dog walking by. She started barking and ran towards the dog, only to stumble on her two front paws and fall down. I watched with growing alarm as she picked herself up, turned back to me and tried to walk back home. She weaved onto the sidewalk and off the curb into the street.

It was at this point that I started to panic.

I went to her, and coaxed her inside. She again got up gingerly, weaved to the porch (the other dog completely forgotten,) and leaned against the building to get herself back inside the front door. Once inside, she collapsed on the linoleum entryway and lay there trembling and urinating on herself.

The panic gave way to full fledged freaking out. I went to the boyfriend to try to explain the enormity of what I had just witnessed. He came out to see Casey, and we were both surprised to find her hiding underneath the table in fear, about as far back in the corner as she could go. She was still trembling. She wouldn't come out to our coaxing and she cringed away from us if we tried to reach her.

The boyfriend mentioned that perhaps she had eaten something she shouldn't have. Maybe she was worried because she had done something she shouldn't have? In near hysteria, I tried again to explain the drunken walking and stumbling. He suggested that I watch her for a while, and then proceeded to get ready to leave for work. (He leaves ridiculously early in the morning.)

I went to get some pepperoni, and found that Casey wouldn't even come out of hiding for her favorite treat. I went to show the boyfriend. He was still unimpressed. "I'll bet she just ate something that didn't agree with her."

At this point, at a complete loss for words for the terror that I was feeling, I began to cry. I tried again to explain the walking and stumbling. I'm not sure if it was the tears, or the obvious hysteria in my voice, but the boyfriend finally seemed to understand that I wasn't overreacting, and something very wrong had just happened to my dog. He suggested that I call the vet when they opened. I know them well, so he thought I could probably get her right in. That calmed me down a little bit. Then he left for work, I took cleaned Casey off and took her into bed with me. Once there we slept until my alarm went off. Well, SHE slept. I fretted.

When I got up, I noticed that Casey was sluggish, but otherwise the normal dog I knew and loved. Still, I remembered the terror that occurred in the early morning hours and took her to the vet anyway.

Apparently dogs can just have seizures. Like people. There is very little we know about seizures and what causes them. Sometimes there's a trigger - sometimes there's not. Casey could have epilepsy, or she could not. Basically, the vet and I talked, we ran some tests, and he determined that she was just fine. The behavior that I had witnessed is very characteristic of post-seizure behavior. Disoriented, confused, scared, and finally, extremely tired. She may just have seizures. As long as they don't occur more than once per month, there's no need to medicate for this condition. If she has another one, turn off the lights, leave the room, and let it finish. If I interact with her in any way, it will just prolong the seizure.

Was he kidding me?!

Thoughts of how Casey was alone most of the day ran through my mind. What kind of dog mom was I if I couldn't keep an eye on my dog? What if she had a seizure when I wasn't there? Oh my God, what if there was something I could have done to prevent this? The terror and helplessness that I had felt in those early morning hours kept coming back to me. There was something wrong with my baby, and there was absolutely nothing I could do to help her. This was very different from the various ear infections and stomach problems that she had had in the past. This was obviously something wrong that medicine couldn't fix. Right away when I saw her unable to walk, I knew it was something serious and it scared the hell out of me.

It sounds ridiculous, right? She's a DOG, for crying out loud. She's my first dog, but still... I guess I didn't understand what it was like to have a pet. A friend of mine in college had her dog die. I said I was sorry to hear that and then I didn't even give it a second thought. (I'm sorry Kate. I didn't know.) But this sort of reaction? What was wrong with me? I feel silly even now talking about how scared I was. I was embarrassed later that same day when I even THOUGHT about how I was feeling and how I reacted. It's not like she's my CHILD.

And right then, my respect for mothers grew about a thousand fold, and my certainty that I wasn't cut out to be one increased just as much.

My mommy friend Lynn had a quote on her myspace page for a while, and it read like this, “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” I read it, thought it was interesting, but never gave it much thought. Even now, I still don't quite GET it. I think you have to be a mom to get it. But good God, if I felt that terrified about something wrong with my DOG, I am sure as hell not ready to have a CHILD. I can't even imagine the fear and worry that moms face daily when there are so many things in the world that you can't control, and your child can face any of them at any time.

When my friend Kristen had her child, he was so beautiful and so perfect that I asked her, "Aren't you just so....PROUD when you look at him? I mean, you MADE that!" I still think that when I see my friends' children. They're all so perfect! That's about as far as I had gone in wondering what it felt like to be a mom. Now I know it's not only pride, it's fear, and love and worry and probably a mix of a thousand different emotions that I can't even begin to comprehend. Hell, I don't have any idea what it feels like to be a mom....I can only guess.

Kudos to you moms out there. That's an amazing decision that you made and a great adventure that you're embarking on.

Me? I'm not ready for that kind of risk. I'll love my dog in a pale imitation of what you guys feel. That's scary enough. I don't know that I could handle anything stronger.

But I'll spoil your kids for you if you want :-) And if you need someone to remind you how cute they are when they're driving you insane, I'm your girl. One thing I can do is appreciate cute. Like this picture after Casey recovered...

And it's been over a month now, so I feel like we're out of the woods. Hopefully that was just a freak one time thing. Keep your fingers crossed.

It would be a shame for something like that to happen to something so cute.

(I obviously mean me, and not the dog...:-)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

It's not's me

I've always said that I'm not a Packers fan. I'm a Brett Favre fan. A Colts fan in Packers clothing, if you will. Why? Because even non-Packers fans can admit that there's a lot to admire about Brett. I mean, even Bears fans might hate him, but they have to respect him. Brett Favre was sort of the hook that my male friends used to get me interested in football. I knew about him before I even realized that Indianapolis had a football team.

So now that he's retired, those same friends (mostly Bears and Lions fans <-- yes they are out there) are asking me when, if ever, I'll stop rooting for the Pack. I think of it like this.

It's like when you're 16 years old and you find out that your boyfriend's family is moving out of state. Sure, it's not happening until the end of the school year, but you know it's going to happen sooner or later, so your relationship is sort of limited. You still care about your boyfriend (the quarterback), and you don't really want to end it before he moves because A) you want every minute you can have with him (or watching him) B) you really do love him, and C) he really is a great guy - there's a certain comfort to backing a guy who's a surefire winner, even if he does let you down every so often these days.

But, you know, you're a realistic gal. You're not one to write your initials in a heart all over your notebook. You realize that at 16, a different state is pretty much a death sentence to any future you may have imagined with this boy. Besides, there's this other guy that you've noticed... and while you would never cheat on your boyfriend (by wearing that other guy's jersey,) you can't help but notice this other guy's prowess. I mean, he's in the same city you are...he's really really good at what he does... It gets to the point that you find yourself following this other guys progress, and even rooting for this other guy to win. You console yourself with the thought that if it were ever a head-to-head matchup, you would most definitely have your boyfriend's back. But if your boyfriend is busy elsewhere, and winning most of his games, there's no harm in rooting for this other guy who has absolutely nothing to do with your boyfriend.

Now that the day has come and your boyfriend's belongings are all packed and you've said your tearful goodbyes (because, really, are there any other kind when you're a teenager?) you can accept that while you'll always remember your boyfriend's ex team with nostalgia, and probably never be able to actively root against them, it's time to move on to the other guy and fully embrace the crush you've been fostering all along. You might still bust out the old boyfriend's jersey from time to time, because your old boyfriend - he really was great. But your allegiance is now firmly with the new guy and his entire team. Because, you know, they're in your city and stuff.

So am I sad that Brett's retiring? Absolutely. He was a great player and it was awesome to root for him play the game he obviously loved. Am I going to take down the Brett Favre autographed picture that my father gave me for Christmas? Nope. He was a great player, and I don't regret following the little bit of his career that I did. Am I going to continue to root against the Bears and Lions? Well, not might just be reflexively. After all, old habits die hard. Am I going to purchase a Colts jersey? You bet your ass I will :-)

Go Colts!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Spring Break (and I am lame)

Today officially begins my spring break, and I couldn't be more excited.

In talking with the kids in my class, I find out that they're planning travels to Florida or Cancun...anywhere warm. I remember those days. They also inevitably ask me what I'm planning, and inevitably look at me like I've suddenly sprouted a second head when I respond with "nothing" and I look immensely satisfied with my response.

When the semester began, I wasn't even that excited about spring break. I mean, I still had to work, I wasn't planning on taking a vacation. I just couldn't see the reason for the hype - at least not at this point in my life. It's not like much was changing at all except that I didn't have to go to class during that week.

About three weeks ago I came to my senses. A WHOLE WEEK WITH NO CLASS! Suddenly the hours between 5:00pm and 11:00pm seem so...expansive! So FREE! I mean, I honestly can't wrap my head around what it will be like to go home on Monday night and be able to cook dinner for the boyfriend. AND I DON'T EVEN COOK! I'm going to have my haircut on Tuesday evening, and I'm beside myself with excitement. Thursday night, I get to have dinner with women that I don't think I've seen since October. And here's the best thing. Even though I have those things planned, I'll still have free time in the evening after they're done. It's not like I'll get home at 11:00pm exhausted from chem lab, or 9:30pm after trying to cram Biology lecture into my oversaturated brain.

But the crown jewel in this fabulous week is this: I get to sleep in on Saturday morning.

Let me say that again, because I don't think you fully understand the gravity of that statement. I. Get. To. Sleep. In.

Before I explain how holy that sentence is, let me lay out my schedule for you. I work 40 hours a week with my regular hours being 8-5. On Mondays and Wednesdays I work 7-4 so that I can get to class at 4:30pm. My MW class is from 4:30-5:45pm. On Mondays, that is immediately followed by lab from 6:00-9:30pm. On Wednesdays, it's followed by recitation from 6:00-7:15. (Wednesdays are my early days.) My Tuesday/Thursday class is from 6:00-7:15pm. On Tuesdays, this is followed by a lab from 7:30-10:20pm. On Thursdays, class is followed by reciation from 7:30-8:20pm. After class, I have to drive the 40 minutes home. Fridays I don't waste one second thinking about class, and sometimes I drink wine. Saturday mornings I volunteer at a low-cost veterinary clinic from 7:30-11:00am. The rest of the weekend is for studying, and this could take all day Saturday to all day Saturday and Sunday.

It's definitely a busy schedule, but it's doable. Sometimes I feel like all I do is eat, sleep, study and work. (And drink Starbucks. Lots and lots of Starbucks.) Sometimes I feel like my dog (and the boyfriend) probably won't recognize me anymore when this is all over. But it's doable. On good days, I think it's a great exercise in time management, and if I can escape from this semester with A's in both classes and both labs, I will really have accomplished something exceptional. On bad days I think I'm insane for doing this to myself, and I consider settling for the desk job where I make absolutely no difference and that I so abhor lately. Either way, there's definitely no room for sleeping in my current schedule.

My first hint of excitement about spring break came when I found out that conveniently coinciding with my week of no class is a vacation that the veterinarian of my low-cost clinic scheduled with his family. So I'm off the hook for volunteering the Saturday that begins my week of freedom. When I heard this news, it's like the clouds parted, the angels started singing, and this gift was God's way of rewarding me for all this hard work. With a morning to sleep in. What a great gift. (yes, I'm lame.)

So last week I began laying the groundwork for my morning of sleep. Casey usually goes to doggie daycare on Fridays - especially in the winter when she doesn't get out for long walks or exercise much. (Because, let's face it, her mom doesn't like the cold.) This means that on Saturday mornings, Casey is about as mellow as Tyson is. In fact, the only animal who doesn't seem to realize that weekends are for relaxing is the foster dog Azul (since re-named "Blue.") If he doesn't get out to walk and/or play at 7:00am, he's fidgeting and making little barking noises to let everyone know that he is not pleased. Since the boyfriend could apparently sleep through armageddon, the only one who is disturbed by this is Emily. When I thought about this, the solution seemed simple.

Today, both Casey AND Blue went to daycare. Last week I collected Blue's shot records from the rescue and had all the paperwork in place for his first visit to dog-frolicking-madness. When I arrived, we noticed that he had no records of his bordatella vaccination (to safeguard against kennel cough.) Around multiple dogs, this is non-negotiable, so Blue couldn't go play. I was dejected for a second but then rememberd the "sleeping in" goal and thought up an alternative plan. I do happen to volunteer at a low-cost clinic. I do happen to administer vaccinations on occasion. So I called, got the vaccination, administered it to Blue, and returned to daycare about 20 minutes later with a perfectly vetted dog. Done! Blue went in, Blue met the other dogs, Blue seemed ready to have a grand ole' time frolicking all day long while exhausting himself in preparation for Emily's morning o' snooze. (Casey, the veteran of daycare, was already running around like a maniac.)

Step one, peace and quiet - check!

We're supposed to get snow this weekend. Lots and lots of snow. The bedroom has an outside wall. Flannel sheets went in the washer this morning.

Step two, warm bed - check!

Tonight is the first round of playoffs for my dodgeball team. (Yes, I play dodgeball on Fridays. I know, I'm insane.) The games are at 8:00 and 8:45pm. I contacted the captain and asked if anyone was going to the bar afterwards. They usually do, but I can't becuase of the aforementioned volunteering/studying. However, it's SPRING BREAK! I can go! She agreed that we would go out and drink some beer.

Step three, ensuring deep sleep - check!

I'm nervous because, except for the small hiccup with Blue's vaccinations, everything seems to be falling in place so perfectly. I can only imagine what's going to come out of the woodwork to spoil my glorious morning where (to steal an idea from Nyquil) I'll "sleep like before I had dogs and a boyfriend." I'll keep you posted. Just don't call for updates on Saturday until after.... Well, for safety's sake, just don't call at all. Wait until Sunday.