The life and times of a freelance canine care technician

i decided yesterday to try my hand at dog walking.  I contacted a very nice woman in Alexandria.  We chatted on the phone and via text and she asked me to start tomorrow (which would be today…thursday…) and I said thats fine.

What I didnt realize was that Alexandria is like 4,000 miles from Reston. This wouldn’t be a problem if I could only get my rocket fixed.

I had to get up around 9:15, not terribly early but it is when you are still having your “I’m going to stay up late because i dont have a job to go to in the morning” party. So I roll out, throw on some shorts, a t-shirt and naturally, a PE bra.

The night prior to this, Charlie, our weenie had eaten my running shoes.  Last week at the gym, Pretty Woman was on in the “cardio cinema room” at the gym and I wore a blister into my right heel to the point where there was blood everywhere.  I love pretty woman.  So I had my shoes, with the bloody socks tucked in them by the door.

Last night is when he noticed them.  Next thing I knew, he was settling in to eat my entire right shoe.  I caught him just in time where only part of the heel had been chewed and he got a stern lecture and his allowanced docked for the next month. As i was cleaning up the carnage of my $125 shoes, I notice he also helped himself to my socks.  I dont know what his fascination with blood is but he loves it. It weirds me out.

Anyway, I throw on my shoes, google map how to get there.  thats when my heart sunk.  37 minutes and $2.00 in tolls.  Doesnt sound like much but when you dont have a lot of income coming in, its a lot to deal with. Meanwhile, I was getting an ear full from mom and dad (each had me on speaker phone on a conference call while all three of us were in the car) about how I should be filing for unemployment and i should get a haircut and I need to enroll my dogs in school.  so I take off down the highway on the way to Alexandria.  I pull into the first house 57 minutes after I left my house.  nearly an hour of sitting in traffic and dealing with interstates just to walk dogs for less than minimum wage. BUT! this was an adventure of the new Stephanie, goddamn it.

My new boss was already there, she was walking the first dog, a sweet girl named Coco. thats when the fun started.  it was pouring. Neither of us had umbrellas with us because it wasnt looking like rain when we started.  So we head in with Coco and took off to the next walk.

We arrive there with no problems.  We meet Riley, a beautiful brindle boxer who seems to have a bit of a mule issue (she sits like a mule in the grass and wont walk on a leash). No rain this time which is fine, i was still drying off from the last walk.

Then I was released into the wild on my own.  4 minutes into the drive to the next walk and I was already lost.  Luckily my new boss was patient enough to lead me there and she stayed on the phone with me, literally, the rest of the day so I wouldn’t end up in Maryland.

I go to London and Paisleys house, two adorable corgi’s and greet them at the door by screaming “good god what is the security code again for this fucking thing?! WHY ISNT IT TURNING OFF?!” once I got it out of “panic mode” I decided to get their harnesses on so we could go out.

If you have never seen a corgi, they are very fluffy.

I couldnt get their half broken, hot pink harnesses on due to the amount of fluff involved with their bellies. I couldnt tell where the hair ended and where the dog began.  I was terrified of being less than 3 inches away from this strange dogs face, laying on the floor trying to get this harness on and pinching her.

I fashioned the harness into a bow around her middle by tying the harness ends together.  All I knew is i didn’t want her to jerk and run away because I would be looking for a new job.

Out we went, with the on again/off again rain, there were puddles everywhere. With their short legs and excessively long hair they looked like street sweepers with ears. Of course, there was another dog walker out there in a tie-dye tanktop with arm holes down to her hips and a tropically themed bra underneath. She has an umbrella and a decrepit, white something dog who you could tell had seen better days (he had a harness on but his seemed to fit). She wanted to chat because it was pissing rain and she doesnt have a lot of people to talk to when walking dogs. while she chatted about being retired, the corgi’s decided to take a break and have a seat in the puddle in front of me.

I finally got away from the retiree in the tropical underpants and got them home where they took turns rolling on the white couch.

On to the next house.  A maltese whose mom has OCD.  I had to wear covers over my shoes.  I will have you know they have 14 hardwood steps that go up to where this dog stays.  14 chances for me to slip backwards and crack my head open on her pledge enhanced floors only to be left there until she returned home from getting a perm.

After this nightmare dog who wouldnt go outside “because it was raining and mom says all dirty dogs go to hell” I squished her back in her crate.

I got back in my car, cold, defeated, wet, in need of a bladder elimination and apparently gushing blood.

On to juneau’s house. A gorgeous huskie greeted me at the door, which he isnt supposed to do due to his apparent hatred for all things feline. The cat was nowhere to be seen…

Out we went! It was still raining, we walked around the buildings, up hills and down them.  I have never had so much respect for postal workers.  I felt a great sense of comradery with my fellow “rain, snow, sleet or shine”‘rs in my life.  Here we are, doing our jobs for the good of all in the rain.

Unfortunately there is no union for freelance dog walkers like the postal service which led me to my next decision…

get me the fuck out of here.

 

an ode to traffic

I am finishing up at the ukelele festival (its a thing) with @jaredwsmith.  He just got his new fancy pants camera and decided to take pictures of every blade of grass and bug in our path. naturally, we hit prime-time ukelele traffic when trying to exit the parking garage.

So as i sit in my car with the lights off and the windows down (im unemployed, i cant just throw money away on air conditioning) I write a small haiku reflecting on my experience.

It goes like this:

An Ode to Traffic

My Car Oh So Red
Everyone in garage wishin’ they was tipsy
I have to pee now

The woes of being unemployed

After I missed 4 phone calls, 3 texts and 15 emails while sleeping in to the crack-of-dawn hour of 11am, i decided to take fate into my own hands and tackle this insurance issue.

I can’t be without insurance, i have shit going on and i need to be insured so a lapse in coverage would be detrimental. Instead of doing cobra and having to haul into my old office, see my coworkers and cutting them a check for a weeks worth of unemployment every month, i decided to go with individual coverage.

I decided to work with Anthem.  That is who my employer had and I figured it would be easier to just transition that way.  I got through the pre-screening process with flying colors. I gave them my height, weight and medical history, which as far as they were concerned I was healthy as a horse. I had never even been on antibiotics as far as they knew.

Then they put Donna on.  Donna was the closer. Complete with a polished white belt and penny loafers. Donna, the thug she is squeezed me into answering questions about my health.  I accused her of violating HIPPA.  She didnt care.  bitch was a rebel. After she read me the first plan, i told her that $215/mo with a $3,000 deductible was unacceptable and thats when she told me that wasnt the best plan they had. Donna was slippery in her low-balling strategy.  She read me the next plan up.  it sounded better.  But then I asked about the prescription plan. Thats when i knew she had me.

me: “so how much are allergy shots?”

donna: “are you on allergy shots?”

me: “NO! i mean, they were thinking about it and i..uh..didnt want to do it at that time”

donna: “well its $35/visit”

me: “and scripts, lets say they wanted to put me on something…”

donna: “well you pay 40% of everything”

me: “holy shit! thats like $240 each month!”

then i stopped myself.  i had been caught.  the ruse was up.  she knew.

Donna: “whats 240/mo? WHATS YOUR DIAGNOSIS?!”

me: “i..uh..HOW DO YOU SLEEP AT NIGHT?”

donna: “well your plan just went up to $550/mo”

me: “unmentionables” *click*

So the next plan was Aetna.  I was armed with my responses. A nice girl named leslie answered.  she went through the pre-screening process which once again  I aced.

Then sara came on the line, she too was pleasant and sold me the plan.  I ended with “lets high five”. She passed me on to some woman who grunted when she answered the phone.  since I had already been sold it was fine.

we went through the series of questions which went something like this:

She-ra: “are you married, single or widowed?”

me: “single”

she-ra: “does your spouse or child have medical coverage?”

me: “im single, no kids”

she-ra: “does your spouse or child have medical coverage?”

me: “yep, still no kids”

she-ra: “you have to answer this question”

me: “i need some coaching…”

she-ra: “please just answer the question ma’am, i cannot help you answer the questions…”

me: “you make me!”

she-ra: “ma’am..”

me: “fine, my fictitious children and soon-to-be husband have health insurance”

she-ra: “so they do have insurance, do you know who through?”

me: “is this a fucking joke?”

she-ra: “ma’am just answer the question”

me: “ok then yes, my children, whom i have never met and my husband that I dont have have health insurance through blue cross. not through you because they would have tracked you down and killed you with their bare hands if they had to go through this screening process because thats the type of people they are. ”

she-ra: “ok, moving on”

67 minutes later my application had been submitted for underwriting. if i didnt have high blood pressure before this, i sure do now.  i just hope i have insurance to cover it.

My second news related event

I was invited to cover a screening of George W. Bush: the 9/11 interview at the National Geographic building in DC.  Before going any further, I would like to remind you that this is on Nat Geo on Sunday, the 28th.  It is worth spending an hour watching.  Its educational and reminds us all not to be such bitches about war, Bush or the government in its entirety.

The cocktail reception started at 6, I left my house at 5:45, I needed to be fashionably late, I learned my lesson from my first press related event.

I found M street with no issues, cussing or causing an accident, so I took that as a good sign.  I pulled into the first garage I could find.  I pull in and ask the young man (hoodlum) how much parking was, what time they closed and if they take visa. He then informed me that they close at 8 (it was 6:30), they take cash only and it would be $18 for 90 minutes.  I told him “fuck no” and then asked “how am i supposed to get out of here now?”.  He said I had to back out, onto a busy street in DC, surrounded by parked cars.

I am not a (tremendous) fan of stereotypes but there is one that I will own up to.  I, as a female, am a terrible driver. I use this stereotype to my advantage at all times without shame.

The hoodlum at the first parking garage told me there was a parking garage across the street that I should try “they be open later”.

I crossed traffic to be met with an individual whos belt was doing a better job holding his knees together than keeping his drawers up. He gave me the bargin price of $15 for 90 minutes.  I asked him if his mother knows what he does for a living. He then mumbled “you wanna park?” needless to say, the answer was “fuck no”.

I decided to take my business elsewhere.  I pulled around the corner and lo and behold there was an “event parking” sign.  I was so elated to have a person with their shirt tucked in tell me (in an articulate manner) that THIS is where I should be.  I asked him if he wanted to see my invitation on my phone.  He said no.

I drove down a long spiral road into the parking garage.  It was so clean and friendly I wanted to get out of my car and skip through the garage. I found a luxuriously large parking spot that I snuggled up into. It was right next to the large bank of colorful elevators across from the entire wall of bike racks.

Upon arrival I realized that I was painfully under dressed in jeans, a tank top and flip flops with my hair perfectly coifed into a day-old ponytail.

I immediately noticed they they were serving mashed potatoes in martini glasses and coconut chicken fingers being that eating is a favorite hobby of mine I was going to see what I could find. But before I did, I noticed it was 6:45, the film was to begin at 7:00 so I decided that I didn’t have enough time.

I decided to thin out the herd and find one lone sheep to attach myself to for the remainder of the evening. Since everyone looked like they were at prom I couldn’t pick based on clothing, so I chose the next best characteristic – age. I found the youngest person in the room.  She turned out to be a recent graduate from American University with a major in marketing with a minor in graphic design.  We spent the next 20 minutes discussing marketing while she grilled me about “the real world”. It might have been the longest 20 minutes of my life.

The flicked the lights and it was time to enter the auditorium. I brought my new friend with me, we chatted politely as we moved through the crowd.  She chose our location, 5th row to the left. We settled in.  I complemented her notebook (a boring legal pad) and her stolen ball point pen.  She was not amused by my puppy notebook.  Square.

The presentation started.  It was brilliant.  It was moving.  It was educational. All that Nat Geo is. I started choking up about half way through (i have a heart sometimes) but I looked around, nobody else was moved to tears, so I put that back into the same place where I go when trying on swimming suits.

After the documentary there was Q&A.  Theres one guy in every crowd who wants to cry every time some political leader does something that isnt 100% correct.  There were two of them in this crowd.  They came together.  They were totally married. Their questions were all surrounding Bush as a person (i.e. his religious beliefs and whether or not he knew about 9/11 when he said he did), none were related to the film. Their questions were limited to one each.  At one point they were both standing with their hands raised.

When Q&A was complete, the rows emptied out and everyone started to file to the doorway.  I lost my new friend in the shuffle.  But that was ok, she asked too many questions anyway.

 

the day the world broke in half

Today started as every week day does, or did, until today.

  • 7:30 first alarm
  • 7:45 second alarm
  • 8:30 third alarm
  • 8:50 get out of bed
  • 8:55 get in the shower
  • 9:05 get out of shower
  • 9:06 find the least dirty thing on the floor
  • 9:10 smear on some mascara
  • 9:12 curse my job by saying “off to another day of sarcastic remarks and name calling! I fucking hate my job at that fucking place”
  • 9:36 arrive at said fucking place
The rest of the morning was spent receiving sarcastic emails, being told to fix problems that I didnt create (after being told explicitly not to perform things that would create said problems) and dreading the moment that He came in.

I am not interested in a bitch-fest. If you are dying to know the ins and outs of my (old) day job, the admission to that shit show is a $15 bar tab.

The beacon of hope in my day is when my only good friend in a 100 mile radius asks me to lunch.  Today was Chick Fil A. Probably the best $6.58 i have spent in a long time (chargrilled chicken sandwich and a diet coke, thank you).  While we were finishing we felt what we thought was a large truck outside with its engine running.  then it felt like a huge plane above. then it felt like an earthquake.

At the exact time the earth was having a seizure, I was receiving my walking papers via email (yes, i was “let go” via email). I got the news on my iPhone in the car on the way back to “that fucking place”.

I can’t call my mother – which is exactly what I do whenever anything monumental happens (a canine bowel movement that is remarkable or you know, an earthquake in Northern Virginia) – the cell service was completely done. So what do i do?  I tweet! The next best thing to my mother is twitter.

The rest of the day is full of tension and job applications. I left promptly at 4:46.  I didn’t say goodbye or cry or anything else that people should do when they lose their jobs.  I simply walked out and didn’t look back.

My world was literally rocked today. Literally and metaphorically and I liked it.

My 10 year old self loves me

My musical tastes have changed dramatically with age, as they do for everyone.

What I am truly embarrassed by is the fact that at 27 I love the same genre of music my 10 year old self had.

No, I don’t listen to Miley Cyrus, just her dad.  Yes, I am a closet Billy Ray Cyrus fan.  That’s not saying much though, I am also a big Beach Boys fan.

If this wasn’t bad enough, I also listen to Katy Perry and I kind of liked that Rebecca Black song.

As I read this to @jaredwsmith, as I do with nearly everything I write he is horrified. I think I have finally weirded out the weird.

Bewbies for all

Today is national “go topless day”. This is the one day a year that protests all around the country are held to spread the word about gender eqaility.  Because apparently voting isnt enough for my gender.  Now we want to be able to walk around half naked.

Look, its not sexy for the 90% of the male species to do it, so its probably not favorable for grandma to do it.

I understand, as a proud boob owner, bras are uncomfortable sometimes, but that is where there are thousands of brands, cuts and styles.  Wear a PE bra for crying out out.

According to the website, www.GoTopless.org,  women should think about their topless rights in case they would like to garden free-balling, or perhaps are vain enough to not want tan lines. Because that is definitely something that a strong, free thinking, independent woman should be thinking about – tan lines. For those of us who aren’t fans of showing off our goods per se, we can buy shirts with illustrated nipples, or perhaps an iphone case when said shirt is in the washer. Everyone needs to know exactly how you feel about boobs at all times.

Their brand illustrates a young woman’s breasts and all of their photography features bresticles that belong to an 18 year old.  Do we want to see a 65 year old woman gardening in her front yard with boobs that she could fashion into a belt? Call me narrow minded, but I say, with a fair amount of accuracy, that nobody would like to see Aunt Linda’s lovely lady lumps, even Uncle Tom.

As I write this, in Washington DC, between the hours of 2-4 pm, it is legal to go topless in public.  I don’t need a demonstration to scare small children with parts of my body that have never seen direct sunlight – I can get to jail all by myself, thank you.

Who wants to see a fat women without clothes on?

Pregnancy photography is weird.

I know it can be done tastefully and with things disguised but why dont these women look bloated, angry and stretch mark-y? God forbid the day I get knocked up (which will never happen I will have you know) the last thing I will want is a photoshoot featuring my fat ass.  There is nothing sexy about pregnancy.

I get it, its a miracle that the condom broke that night you drank too much schnapps.  But really, keep your shit off facebook.

Moreover, men, I dont want to see your wife/girlfriend/one night stand huffing and puffing while birthing a pooping, screaming alien covered in goo on my facebook feed.  Stash that in the private collection on the book case.

So the moral of the story is this: When you are knocked up, stay away from cameras.

 

Dogs are people too

I was born a dog person. My parents had Ernie when I was born, then Ernie died, then we got ralph who died when I was in High School.  After Ralph was Buddy.  Buddy has multiplied into Missy, Gus, Maggie and Charlie.

It is interesting how they become your children.  Maggie and Charlie are actually better than kids.  They never get sick of me, they love what I feed them and they will never expect me to pay for college.

It is interesting though that although they like me as a person I do think they try to be nice about some things when they really want to tell me to go to hell.

For instance, as I write this, at 1am, Charlie is laying on the floor in the fetal position because frankly, its past his bed time.  I try to talk to him and he gives me the same look strangers on the metro give me when I try to talk to them. Maggie on the other hand can sleep anywhere under any circumstances, except thunder.  Kid can’t stand thunder.  She has to take downers when it rains.

So what I am saying is this: My dogs are better than your kids.

 

My First Press Related Event

I was tasked to go to a movie premier for a friend to cover for her website.  My first press event and I couldn’t wait. I even went out to buy a notebook specifically for “press related activities and events”.  It was small and sturdy with pictures of illustrated dogs on it in all-different colors.  I also bought over-priced ballpoint pens.  I was official.

I found the mall that the movie theater was in without a hitch thanks to Google Maps.  I even found a parking garage outside of Macy’s to park in.  Because Macy’s is always a safe bet my grandmother says.

Armed with my puppy notebook, overpriced pens and giant “makes everything else look small in comparison” bag, I walked with confidence through the Macy’s shoe department.  I even took time to pause at stacked Calvin Klein heels making a mental note that when my writing gets syndicated by the Washington Post, which at that exact moment I thought it would, I will treat myself to these, because after all I was a sophisticated news writer who needed pleather, 5 inch, peep-toe heels.

I arrived at the theater at a prompt time of 7:45 pm for an 8:30 pm film, if you’re not early; you’re late after all. I immediately spotted a gentleman manning a table of 3-D glasses looking very official, I marched up to him and asked “I am here for the movie premier, where do I go?” and he told me just to walk in.  I then asked if I needed “an official badge”.  He said “no” and then avoided eye contact for the next 10 seconds before I walked away.

I skipped the popcorn and diet coke because I was a working girl.  That and the line was too long. I arrived at theater 5 and saw a table with Lionsgate reps handing out half sheets of paper printed in black and white with the movie poster on it. This is surely where I was supposed to be.  They asked me my name and where I was from and I proudly pronounced my name and my affiliation with somebody far more important than myself. After the woman got done rolling her eyes she allowed me past the velvet ropes.

I walked down the long corridor into the theater.  As I walked into the dimly lit room I was greeted by two thugs wearing suits, this was a big deal. I was told not to sit in the back row and that I wasn’t allowed to have my trusty iPhone out while the movie was playing, but before the movie it was ok.  I wasn’t sure and was about to ask but then I noticed everyone around me was on his or her phones.  I fished my phone out of my giant bag and started live tweeting, which incidentally nobody cared about.

I watched my fellow writers pour in and get the same speech I got.  Behind me there were nuns, full on flying nuns.  To my left was a kid with socks and sandals who clearly was single. Next to him was the man who nearly stepped on me trying to get past me with his snowcaps.  Then there was Chad with his backwards hat and blue icee (because apparently Chad is 14 and writes news for a living).  I will also note that there were plenty of people with popcorn.

I had my puppy notebook out and pen poised to write my award potential news piece and then took a look around.  The nuns, socks and sandals man-boy, snowcaps asshole and Chad, none of them had notebooks and I can assure you, the notebooks they did have didn’t have animals on them.

I put that stupid notebook away.  Not before I entered a list of things to do:

  • Get a smaller purse
  • Never bring the puppy notebook out of the house again
  • Stop asking for official badges
  • Be cooler

The movie was fine, went off without incident.  Nobody got kicked out for having his or her phone out.

The movie, 2.5 hours long, emptied out at 11:00 pm.  I am a 9:00 pm’er. I noticed everyone going in the same direction to get out of the mall to their cars.  That is when I had made a very bad mistake. I parked in Macy’s on the other side of the mall and the only way to get there was to cross over construction.  Luckily I met John who escorted me to the door to find my car, across the entire mall. What is good is that he carried on an entire conversation on his Bluetooth headset throughout our entire interaction.  I bid him adieu at the door and thanked him for his hospitality. He walked away when I tried to hug him.

Outside I walked into what I thought was my parking garage.  I went to the second floor, no car, then to the first floor, no car, back to the second floor in case I missed it, no car, third floor, no car, back to the second floor, still no car and back to the first floor just to double check. At this point I was more confused than concerned.  This is where I met Dave. Dave was emptying the trash at the ground floor of the parking garage.   Dave, who looked me up and down, graciously helped me look for my car.  For the next 45 minutes. I was convinced my 2010 red Volkswagen Beetle had been stolen. It has leather seats for crying aloud! At this point I am on the phone with Jared telling him to prepare to come pick me up because I didn’t have a car anymore.

Finally Dave has an idea. There are three entrances to Macy’s at this godforsaken mall. He heroically guides me to the final parking garage of the evening (because the other 4 we were in yielded no results) and there is my car, untouched, in the same place I left it.

The resolution: Always write down where your car is, pee before you leave and never assume anybody cares who you are.