Toy poodle or feret on steroids?  You decide.Photo source: Yahoo!

Toy poodle or feret on steroids? You decide.
Photo source: Yahoo!

Most Mondays, I question that I chose working as a career.  Why couldn’t I have majored in vacation?  I am really good at sitting, eating, smiling, enjoying, relaxing, drinking and sleeping.  Basically, I bring all the skills needed to be the CEO of Vacation.  Yet, nine years post college, here I sit (in a cube no less) every Monday daydreaming about five day weekends and two day work weeks, asking myself, why?  

Usually to make myself feel better, I take a five minute break here and there to catch up on the latest and greatest on the interwebs.  Yahoo!, known for its groundbreaking reporting and stories, is where I typically start.   This morning was no different and as I perused the carousel I saw a headline that read, Man buys toy poodles, discovers they are actually ferrets on steroids.  Um, yes please – tell me more.  

As it turns out, there is a market in Buenos Aires that sells “puppies” that are actually ferrets and rats.  They pump varmints up with steroids, fluff their hair and scam people.  Now, I’ve seen both rats and ferrets.  They are both disgusting, smelly animals that I am shocked could be mistaken for puppies.  But then I thought about it for a bit.

If I were the CEO of Vacation, Buenos Aires would definitely be on my list of destinations.  I would sleep in, eat a lot and drink more.  Then, after I had a substantial buzz, I would wander around the city taking in the sights, which would most likely include a visit to La Salada, Argentina’s largest bazaar.  In a vacation high, I would wander up and down the aisles of the market seeking out the cutest puppies.  I would pick them up and cuddle them, disregarding every red flag like the weasely movements and hissing. 

“What a cute puppy!” I’d exclaim to my vacation employees. 

“I want one.  If I could just hold onto him.”  I would look around as the puppy shimmied out of my arms.

“Do you sell leashes?” I’d ask the booth owner.

“Perfect!  I’ll take both puppies and two leashes.”  Then, my vacation high would be replaced with a puppy haze of happiness except that they weren’t really puppies.  They were ferrets.  And ferrets are weasels.  And weasels are gross and mean.  I would feel like the dumbest CEO of Vacation so I would try to hide the puppy scandal from everyone around the world.  I would fear getting fired from vacation. 

Then, my work phone rang and snapped me back to reality – maybe a career in working after all isn’t so bad.  I hate ferrets.


Growing Up

Growing upI lived my twenties as a free spirit.  I had a lot of fun.   After all, the only person I had to take care of was myself.  I was an independent, young adult with a lust for life.  I did what I wanted, and only I had to suffer the consequences or so I thought. 

Tom and I recently placed an offer on a condo in the city.  We first saw the condo in January.   It is a large, vintage unit with two floors.   From the moment I walked in the door, I was in awe.  The space was unlike anything I had ever seen.  I wandered into the kitchen seeing our future flash in front of my eyes.  I imagined myself standing at the sink making dinner, hearing the pitter patter of little feet running down the hallway and later in life standing in the same place hearing laughter of teenagers echoing from the basement.  I could smell Tom’s coffee brewing as he shouted to me from another room.  The condo was warm and inviting.  I knew in my heart it was the place we would raise our family.

After we left the building, Tom and I excitedly talked about everything we liked in the unit.  It needed work but the bones were good.   Plus, Tom needs a house with projects.  The unit had the original woodwork from the early 1900’s and quite frankly, we were never going to find another place that size in the neighborhood we were looking.  There was only one issue, it was slightly more than we wanted to pay.  

For the next three months, we looked at more places comparing it to “the one”.  We looked at it online every night to see if it was still available or if the price dropped.  We talked in length about what we would do to the place if it were ours and more importantly, did we need that much space?  We did everything we could to talk ourselves out of the place, even placing an offer on a different condo, but in every scenario, “the one” was staring back at us.  

After consulting two of our sisters on what we should do, we decided to make an aggressive offer.  After some negotiating, the condo was ours and thus begins the rest of the process.  The process of buying house is a lot of work, and there had been one piece I was dreading – the finance piece.  While I had gotten my act together in the past few years, I had made some mistakes as a free spirit.  And while it wasn’t a surprise to Tom (seriously, we have no secrets), I felt terrible.  The consequences of my actions weren’t just mine anymore, they were Tom’s too.  

I took an afternoon off from work so we could go to the bank.  I was a bucket of nerves the entire day.  

“I’m nervous.” I said grabbing Tom’s hand as we walked into the bank. 

“It’ll be fine.”

We sat in front of the broker going over every detail of our life.  Every rock was turned over and bumps in the road exposed.  I sat there face flushed.  In comparison to Tom, I had a long ways to go.  While he’s 29 going on 60, I’m 31 going on 28.  

“Elyse, don’t worry.  It’s not bad.”  The broker had gentle eyes and a kind smile.  I looked down in my lap and Tom squeezed my hand.  It was my worst nightmare, as she asked more and more questions. 

“I’ll be right back.”  She said walking off to get something.

“I’m sorry, Tom.”

“Don’t worry about it.  It’s not bad…just promise me you’ll continue to make good decisions going forward.”

“I promise.”  I bounced my feet as I waited.  My heart was beating ninety to nothing.  One of my biggest fears in life is letting Tom down. 

The broker came back with papers in her hand. 

“Congratulations.  You are approved”

My heart leaped out of my chest.  Buying a home had suddenly become a reality.  I didn’t have to hide behind my fear anymore.  I didn’t have to be skeptical that it wasn’t really going to happen.  I could relax and get excited.  We were going to buy a home…together.

Thirty No More

Tomorrow I turn 31.  It’s the birthday I have dreaded.  It means I am officially in my thirties.  While I spent the last 364 days as a thirty year old, I could always say “Well, last year in my twenties…”  I don’t think I ever uttered that sentence, but it was in my back pocket if needed.  It was comforting to think that my twenties were still in the rearview mirror.   

Thirty being a milestone birthday deserved a big party.  I celebrated mine with a Pilgrims and Indian themed birthday party.   I remember looking around that night at my group of friends, who had no shame going to a bar with giant Indian head dresses and Pilgrim hats, thinking how lucky I was to be surrounded by so many wonderful friends.   People stared.  We laughed.  It was a great way to celebrate the next decade.  But what I didn’t know at the time, is it was the last hurrah for that group of friends.  All of our lives were changing.  Marriages happened, babies were born and I moved to the suburbs.  Our lives that were once so closely woven had loosened so that only a few pieces remain intact.  Those few pieces – my best friends Evelyn, Jack and Tom – were with me on Saturday to celebrate 31. 

I met Evelyn and Jack through my sister Lana.  It would take a few years for us to become best friends but when we needed each other most, our friendship evolved.  In 2009, each of us were having shitty years.  Within months, Jack broke up with his partner of 7 years, Evelyn’s father was diagnosed with cancer, my mom was diagnosed with cancer, and to top it off, our common bond was leaving – Lana was moving to Canada.  In a few short months, it seemed our lives were falling apart.  But rather than let ourselves fall, Evelyn, Jack and I found comfort in each other.  We distracted ourselves with laughs over bottles of wine, late night dinners and companionship.  We did everything together.  It was rare to find one of us without the other. 

I met Tom at work.  We were both starting a new job and sat next to each other at orientation.  I introduced myself eager to make a work friend.  He was not as eager.  He and I crossed paths every day at work but it would be four years until our first date. 

It was Evelyn who pointed out the chemistry between Tom and me after a work happy hour.  She was right.  I couldn’t get him out of my head.  He was the type of man I had always dreamed of dating – smart, kind, interesting, funny and handsome.  He was perfect.  A few months later, he asked me out. 

The night before our first date Evelyn came over for a typical Friday night – Scrabble and a bottle of wine.  We were perched at my table gossiping when Jack texted.  A guy he was dating stood him up, and he was in the dumps.  Evelyn and I told him to come over and to bring more wine.  It was no different than it was during those infamous shitty months in 2009, the three of us would do anything for each other.  Jack was at my door in ten minutes.  We sat on the couch comforting each other and laughing within minutes.  We had an impromptu dance party in my living room that night, not a care in the world while we drank ourselves silly.   The next morning I woke up to see Evelyn and Jack passed out on the couch like the perfect friends they were.  And just like I didn’t know it on my 30th birthday, this night was a sort of last hurrah for Evelyn, Jack and myself.  You see, I was 29 and that night, Tom and I had our first date.  I fell in love with the man I will someday marry. 

As much as I never wanted the dynamic to change between Evelyn, Jack and me, it did.  I started spending more time with Tom.  I wasn’t in the city as much.  I was missing the nightly walks and random texts to meet for drinks.  And while we still emailed religiously every day, things were different.  Evelyn and Jack remained a constant in each other’s lives, while I floated in and out. 

I dreaded the night I told Evelyn I was moving out to the suburbs permanently.  Continue reading

Forgetting Pets

I have had fish for two years – the same fish.   I love these fish or at least I thought I did.  The other day as I was getting food for Sam, I was distracted by the sound of water running.  I turned around and jumped in surprise, which quickly turned to panic.  I forgot I had fish. 

It’s not the first time I have forgotten about a pet.  A few years ago, Lana asked me to catsit for her while she was on a business trip.  She had a rescue cat who hated everyone except me.  The cat loved to sit on my lap and lick me.  She had trained him to use the bathroom in the toilet so all I had to do was go to her place, flush the toilet and give him food twice a day.  She was going to be gone for five days. 

On the fourth day, I called my friend Grant.

“Hey Grant.  How’s it going?”

“Good, what’s up Elyse?  You sound weird.” 

He sensed my nerves as I stood outside my sister’s apartment for the first time in four days.  I shook head to toe terrified of the scene I was going to find when I opened the door.  I imagined the cat lying in his own urine emaciated with a single tear rolling down his face.  He would take one last look at me and whisper in meows, “you did this to me,” before taking his final breath.    

What would I do with his body?  What would I tell Lana?  I started to hyperventilate.    

“Ummm.   Uh.  You might think this is a weird question but can cats survive without eating for four days?”

“What?  What are you talking about?”  I started crying.

“Grant, I don’t want to go in alone.  I’m scared.  I murdered Lana’s cat.  I need you to come in with me.”

“Elyse, what did you do?” He started to laugh.  “You’re ridiculous.” 

“I’m catsitting.  Well…I forgot I was catsitting.  And now, I think he’s dead.  I feel so guilty.  Do you think he’s dead?”

Grant showed up at Lana’s apartment fifteen minutes later.  I was sitting on the stoop rocking back and forth like a crazy person.  I looked at him and gave him a weary smile. 

“Are you ready?” Continue reading

Writer’s Block

Let me just say it.  We’re all thinking it.

Writer’s Block is a bitch.

Just when I think she is impossible to beat, a great idea comes to mind.  Or it seems like a good idea until she cuts me off midsentence.   Just like that, the bitch appears, taking away my thoughts.  She laughs in my face.  She taunts me with empty pages.  She hypnotizes me with a blinking cursor.   She distracts me.   She gives me terrible ideas to write posts about like Why clouds are awesome, especially if we could stand, jump, frolic and nap on them.

I curse her as I backspace, deleting my words in frustration.  I will not let her win.  I cannot let her win but I know she will be back.  And when she is I’ll be prepared for a word fight.

But there is still today.  Today, I win.   I overcame.  I wrote a post about her.

I’m watching you Writer’s Block.

I’m back.

I had a dream about my blog last night.  I miss it.  It has been a few weeks since I have taken a moment to write.  I wish I had some great excuse like Sam peed on my computer but in reality, my absence is because life got in the way, particularly my job. 

When I started this blog, I was bored.  I had been in the same role at work for too long.  I loved my job but it was no longer mentally stimulating.  My life had turned into Groundhog Day.  All I thought about during my twenty-five minute commute was what I was going to write next.  I had mental lists of all of my favorite stories, reoccurring posts, which friend I was going to introduce next.  In my mind, I had laid my life out in a never ending story.  Every day was a new experience.  My stories were going to be new and old.  And they were endless. 

When I got to work, I wrote.  I mindlessly answered emails while keeping a draft open with my next post.  I sat in meetings day dreaming about my post, editing it in my mind.  I thought of ways I could make it better or better yet, how I would tell the story in person.  I read the words over and over; I read them out loud.  I spent my days perfecting every word, every sentence.  Tom teased me that Word Press had created a monster.  He was right.

I had not felt this rejuvenated in a long time.  It felt good to think again.

Not long after I started writing, the rumblings started at work.  Things were changing.  There were a lot of hallway conversations speculating what was coming.  Was it going to be good or bad?  Are we all going to make it through?   There was an uneasy feeling around the office.  But as things started to unfold, we realized the changes were going to be good.  For me?  It was really good.  All of my hard work had paid off and my complacency noticed – I was promoted.  And just like that, my focus shifted from my blog to work. 

I can’t stop thinking about work.  The bar has been raised.  I have to prove myself once again if I am ever going to get to the next level.  I want to be successful in my career.  But I also want to be successful in blogging.

So here I sit.  Tom is next to me watching Game of Thrones.  Sam is asleep on his dog bed.  My feet are up and the computer is on my lap.  The glow of the computer screen highlights my smile.  It’s exactly how it was a few weeks ago.  I’ve missed it.

I’m back.

An Easter Story

This Easter egg that reads "Poop" was made by Tom with the invisible crayon. It was a delightful surprise. In hindsight, I think it was foreshadowing of what was to come.

I broke a toilet today – not clogged, broke.  There’s a distinct difference; although, I was just as embarrassed.  We are at Tom’s parent’s house for the weekend.  We had just finished dinner when my tummy started hurting.  I excused myself and headed upstairs.  Everything was great until I flushed the toilet.

It. Would. Not. Stop. Flushing.

I lifted the lid thinking I’ve got this.  I’ve fixed a running toilet before but unfortunately, this was not your average toilet.  It was an energy, efficient, fancy toilet.  I couldn’t see any parts or even water for that matter.

“I’m screwed,” I muttered.

When I am confused, I have a tendency to turn in circles.  It’s like I am wasting time until a mysterious genie appears out of a non-existent lamp to give me advice on my latest situation.  As usual, the genie didn’t appear.  Ah, shit.

“Um, Tom.”  I walked half way down the stairs thanking God my best friend Evelyn broke the potty barrier between the two of us early in the relationship.

My face was bright red, as his dad followed behind him.  “Uh, the toilet won’t stop flushing.”

Tom comes to check out the situation.  My face was turning a deeper red as the seconds ticked by.

“Get me a plunger.”

“But it’s not clogged.  It’s just flushing.”

“Get me a plunger, Elyse.”

“Okay, but let me do it just in case.” By this time, his parents were starting to gather at the door.  I might as well have been wearing a sign that read: I just took a dump.  It didn’t go well.

Why were the relationship Gods being so mean?  Was it because I ate meat on Good Friday?  It was only the second time I slipped all Lenten season.  The first time was for a Slim Jim.  I can never resist snappin’ into a Slim Jim.

Tom and his dad worked on the the toilet for at least a half hour.  I stopped watching after the first ten minutes.  I couldn’t handle the embarrassment so I joined his mom downstairs.  I filled her in on the situation.

“It’s okay,” she reassured me.  “It could have been any of us.”  She was right, but it wasn’t just anyone, it was me.  I broke the toilet while doing the unspeakable.  I needed to give myself a pep talk because I knew the elusive genie wasn’t going to show up anytime soon.

Alright, Elyse, you can do this.  Act like nothing happened and just laugh it off.  Hold your head up high.  They’ll forget abou…

Tom shouted interrupting me mid-thought, “Hey Stinky, come play ping pong with us!”

Who am I kidding?  They are never going to let me forget.

Happy Easter, y’all!  I hope yours is less embarrassing than mine! -Elyse