A Dog’s Love

Rufus’ only job is to love me. He thinks he has to protect the house from the mail carrier, the cat across the street, the leaf blowing down the sidewalk, and anyone who happens to walk past our door… those who have the audacity to knock must die of course, and if it weren’t for me foiling his plans, goodness knows how many notches he would have on his belt by now. But in reality, his only job is to love me, and he does it very well. The below is evidence of this.

I’m not sure whether I should feel guilty for leaving him out in the cold, as it were, impressed with his staying power (he apparently stayed this way for 30 minutes), or comforted at the idea that someone loves me so unconditionally that they would willingly stand guard awaiting my return from the bath.

Rufus the Invincible

Caught in the Matrix

No-one will believe me, I know, BUT … while driving to work today, I saw a car that looked just like mine. Now you might say, “Really, Wendy? Wow. It’s not as though there are thousands upon thousands of Kia Spectras in the country...” Just hear me out. It was the same exact model and color, with similar wear and tear. It had the same exact black and white paw print “spay/neuter your pet” magnet on the back … in the exact same spot as mine. I couldn’t tell what humane society it was from (I was on a highway in morning rush hour traffic doing about 60 mph at the time), but still. It had a short-ish woman with blonde hair driving.  Again, I didn’t get a good look at her because I was trying to not crash at the time. But I would like it noted that I am a short-ish woman with blonde hair. Here’s the kicker … the license plate was almost identical. Do you know, that was the one thing that made me realize I wasn’t in some sort of time loop where I was early (or late) and passing myself on the highway?

I know they say “pics or it didn’t happen!” Frustratingly enough, I was unable to snap a pic or even get my cell phone out cause, you know … driving.  I swear, I’m not crazy. I’m not.

I’m not.

Riding the Waze Wave

In the good old days, we had these things called maps.  I’m not saying I knew how to use them, just making light conversation.

I am both geographically and navigationally challenged.   When my daughter came in to the world, Mother Nature gave her looks, talent, and brains.  Then, looking down on me desperately trying to find the dairy aisle in a grocery store, Mother Nature decided to even the odds in my favor and give her an insanely accurate sense of direction.  My daughter could go someplace one time, and it is permanently ingrained on her brain map.  If, however, I am driving, and we end up three states away from our destination (due to my innate inability to follow directions), my daughter has fantastic technology in the palm of her hand to bring us back on track.  I was forbidden to touch the device, however, after that one time I tried to fold it back up and put it in the glove compartment.

With my daughter off to college and busy with her own life … too busy to help her old mother find that Starbucks two towns away that has that awesome white mocha latte that we’ve only been to 500 times (and I still can’t locate on my own), I figured I would never be able to find anything again.  I had visions of being lost in my own home, unable to find the bathroom or kitchen.  Luckily for me, she had an awesome solution called Waze. If you haven’t tried this app, you should. I swear by it now … and no, I don’t get paid to say that. It’s just as a person who routinely gets lost in my own hometown, I appreciate any little bit of help I can get to stay on track and on time.

Waze is more than just directions.  This amazing free app is powered by its users and allows them to enter alerts for police, traffic, accidents, road hazards, and so forth.  For some reason I do not understand, my car shows up on fellow Waze user’s screens as a blinking neon blip, with people regularly posting updates as to my whereabouts and adding absurd emoticons next to it. I’m sorry fellow travelers, but if it’s any consolation, I really don’t want to be doing what I’m doing either.

Waze has saved me time and frustration on more than one occasion by steering me away from traffic and into a smooth flow of backroads and little-known detours (at least little known to me).  I’ve been into neighborhoods I didn’t even know existed.  Every day driving is now an adventure!  At times, I like to feel in control and will deliberately ignore Waze instructions so that it realizes it is not the boss of me.  I mean, seriously, what the hell are you sending me this way for, you stupid app??  Needless to say, I’ve regretted it every time, because I’ve subsequently run into standstill traffic which has significantly delayed my road trip, not to mention added to my road-stress level…which, in all honesty, is about maxed out on a good day.

Waze doesn’t have the snark delightful repartee that accompanies my daughter’s route-finding directions, but it gets me where I need to be.

Now, speaking of lost, enjoy this news story about a family lost in corn maze who called 911 for rescue.   I may be a get lost in my own hometown kind of person, but I will never be the “lost in a corn maze calling 911 instead of cutting directly through the corn or flagging down the corn maze lifeguard” kind of lost.

Hospital Absurdities

I’ve been thinking a lot about illnesses lately.  About how some of them take your loved ones away, piece by piece, until there is nothing left of the person you once knew.

My grandmother’s mind was ravaged by Alzheimer’s. Such an insidious disease. She went from the fiercely strong woman I knew to someone who no longer even knew herself.  And as some of you know, my dad is currently struggling with cancer; he’s doing everything he can to kick its ass.  I’ve often wondered: is it better to lose your mind and keep your bodily health or retain your intellect yet have your body waste away? A twisted kind of lottery if you ask me, no matter which way you go. Terminal illness sucks, of that there is no doubt.

While I would drop everything to be at their beck and call, from day to day I try to keep a light heart and not dwell on the reality that is my dad’s illness … if I did, I’d go down that rabbit hole and never come back up. Instead I show my love through food and treats and stupid jokes and gossip and stupid jokes. Did I mention stupid jokes?

The tangled mess that is my mind wonders about so many things and since we’re discussing illness, naturally, I wonder about hospitals. So here is me … dealing with an ugly reality in a very not so mature way.

Why can you never find a doctor?  It’s a hospital, for goodness sake.  Doctors swarm around there like ants on your kitchen counter, so why is it you can never find one when you need him?  Pinning a doctor down for a visit to your hospital room is like planning a visit from your cable company, only a lot less fun.  “I’ll be there between 8am tomorrow morning and 11pm next Tuesday.”  Are there hidden golf course in the basement of the hospital?

Why are so many surfaces white?  Sure, I get the concept.  White equals cleanliness and sterility.  But what’s the point when the janitors are playing “Guess That Body Fluid” every time they make rounds?  Do you think janitors and housekeeping play fun games behind closed doors?  “I’ll see that pee puddle and raise you a vomit pile.”  “BINGO!”

Why do they wake you up to give you a sleeping pill?  Look, Mr. Baker is finally asleep.  Let’s run the floor polisher, set off all the alarms, and wake him for a sleeping pill.

Where do they hire the cooks?  Is there a testing process the cooks have to go through to be hired?  “Yes, Mrs. Smith, I see you worked in the High School cafeteria.  Serving cardboard pizza and soy hotdogs is great experience for this job.  However, I’m afraid you failed the test when you made the chicken taste like meat.”

How do they change the hallways to ensure you get lost every time you leave the floor?  This is some kind of engineering feat to rival anything NASA accomplishes.  From the moment you step out into the hallway, the room changes sides and moves to the opposite wing of the hospital.  The hallways reconfigure themselves, and the elevators disappear completely.  I swear, it’s like Hogwarts on steroids (if you don’t get that reference, go read the Harry Potter series … it’ll be good for you). The cafeteria moves multiple times to ensure no one will ever be able to find it, or its tasteless chicken.  I tried to leave a trail of breadcrumbs, but they disappeared when the janitor swept them up, excitedly marking his Bingo card.  Apparently, breadcrumbs are double or nothing.

Why have a call button at all?  Admit it, we all do this.  You hit the call button and immediately go out to find a nurse.  This is similar to the person hitting the up button on the elevator when it’s already been pushed.  Of course, once the call button is pushed, all nurses and technicians play hide and seek.  Well, all except for that poor nurse who’s always standing at the medication cart, paper cup in one hand, looking like a deer in the headlights.

Can we try happy words instead of procedure names?  “It’s bubbly yum yum time” sounds so much better than “It’s time for your chemo treatment.”

In all seriousness, I hate disease, and the way it robs us of all we hold dear.  The treatments sometimes seem worse than the illness they are treating, and it is hard to stay strong when you are watching someone begin to lose parts of themselves.  Some stories have good endings – thankfully, my Dad appears to be veering off into this direction – some, unfortunately, don’t.  The best you can do is reassure your loved ones that you have your seat belt on, and you’re coming along for the ride.

In the meantime, it doesn’t hurt to try to find some small doses of humor along the way.

Oh, and I’ll bring the snacks.