Thursday, February 25, 2010

Itching to Clean

Well, the double cold ended up looking more like the flu- we were both feeling pretty awful for four days each. My girlfriend didn't go back to work until yesterday (she was still recovering even then) and I was still feeling really miserable. Today was my last day of feeling sick I think, or at least the first day I've really felt like I was starting to recover. Mostly today I was just wiped out. I thought I was exhausted before, but getting sick has given me a new perspective on things. I didn't venture down the stairs for several days, and when I did it this morning- to take Noodle outside to go to the bathroom- it completely flattened me. By the afternoon I felt better, and then the challenge was to avoid doing too much. With both of us out of commission since last weekend started, and with four pets up here in addition to us, things have gotten pretty filthy. My girlfriend recovered first, but she's had a lot to do with work, tutoring and pets; besides that she's really not the cleaning type. Now, my girlfriend and I are agreed on one thing- I'm a little bit crazy. I love cleaning. It's not that I'm obsessive about it being clean all the time or something, though if I'm honest with myself I may have inherited a little of that from my dad (who is a total neatfreak). It's more just something that gives me satisfaction, that I enjoy doing and that I think is fun. Yes, I think sweeping is really entertaining, lol. So today it was pretty difficult to keep myself in check. There's a nice layer of fur on the floor everywhere and the surfaces have food gunk or crumbs on them from having our food near us. Things- like books, DVDs, and empty kleenex boxes, have been migrating around the upstairs. I even found an uneaten clementine in a bag somewhere, forgotten because we didn't bring it when we went into the other room a couple days ago. So I let myself move a few things around and sweep a tiny bit in the worst room. I did a few dishes and cleaned a couple of counters and felt much better about life. I was careful, though, and tired quickly as expected. I think I'll end up doing a lot tomorrow- hopefully feeling even better than I did today- and I can start to get caught up. Did I mention the laundry? We've got about six loads at this point, since we were sick when we usually do it.

And here's a dream I've been meaning to record. I got up in the night to take more Xyrem and go use the bathroom. I was at the house I grew up in, which for some reason didn't tip me off- I was convinced it was real life. I get to the bathroom to find that, once again, the toilet is obviously not working. I sigh and decide I'd better use the other bathroom, so I head in that direction. I reach out and open the door. Bright light shines on me and suddenly I see that there's this teenage girl standing on the inside of the door, looking straight at me with this huge smile on her face. I jump about a foot in the air since I wasn't expecting anyone, especially somebody I'd never seen before, to be in there. She starts laughing and I try to laugh it off but I'm pretty creeped out by the whole thing. Her grin is so big that it's stretching her face unnaturally. I figured out it was a dream at that point, and instead of searching for a bathroom I started trying to figure out how to wake up. I just wandered around the house hoping to snap out of it, figuring I would feel different if I actually woke up. Which I did after awhile, very confused about which house I was in, but also quite relieved.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Double Cold

Last week my girlfriend had a series of epiphanies about herself and teaching and the difficulties she was having in the classroom, which resulted in her feeling much better about life by the time Friday came along. Friday was an inservice day, so she had to show up but didn't have to teach. Instead she spent the day in activities with other teachers, who kept offering her various kinds of sugary food. Neither of us eats much sugar these days- she cooks us super-healthy gluten-free, soy-free, vegetarian dishes every night. So we're both completely unused to sugar and react to it pretty strongly. She only took enough to be polite, but by the time she got home she was feeling pretty awful. That night she started to get a sore throat. We aren't sure if it was connected to the sugar or the walk we took that evening, or if she just caught it from students and would have gotten sick anyway.

She was feeling pretty bad on Saturday while we were running errands, and by the time we got back I had started to feel a little bit under the weather myself. Usually one of us is sick at a time, but by Sunday morning we were a very sad and stuffy couple of people. We've been basically stumbling around ever since, taking care of whatever is needed either together or one at a time, but mostly lying around trying not to get too bored. She stayed home today and I'm glad. Besides wanting her to feel better, it's nice to have company, even when the company is almost as stuffy and gunky as you are. We both have fevers, though mine is worse at this point. We figure she's almost done while I started a little later so I still have awhile of feeling nasty ahead of me. The poor dogs haven't had a walk in days and the place is getting a little gross since the cleaning one- me- has been out of commission. We were surviving on leftovers but tonight she'll have to come up with something. I've decided one at a time is much easier to deal with, even though it's admittedly kind of nice to not suffer alone.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Old World Community Center

I had a pretty good night last night until about the middle of my third dose. Then it was crazy dream time.

I think it started off with me standing on the sidewalk next to a quiet city street. It was a pretty typical neighborhood with street lamps and small houses that looked like they were old but well-kept. I walked down the street and turned toward a small apartment building. Up a flight of stairs and down a hallway that was also a balcony I pulled out my key, unlocked a door and went in. My roommate was there- only she wasn't anything like any roommate I've had in real life. She was this artist woman in her 50s who was pretty sick but still smoking cigarettes anyway. She had the living room of our apartment as her art studio. There were paintings and paint and rags and brushes and sculpting stuff lying around everywhere. I was apparently quite a bit younger than I am in real life and she had taken me in. It was interesting because I wasn't really into art at all, it was just something this roommate did.

She had an exhibition of her work at this fancy building and we were there for the next part of the dream. I ran around exploring because the building was really cool. It looked like it had been decorated in England in the 1700s or something, and there was crazy detailed wallpaper, gilded details on the walls and ceiling, and all the wood was dark and old-looking. It had been a manor house at one point and was now converted into a community center of sorts. There were several auditoriums with things going on the same night as the exhibition, including a lecture on autism and a fancy opera. I tried to stand in the back of both to watch for awhile, but you needed a ticket and I didn't have any money, so I just ended up wandering hallways and admiring the decoration.

After awhile it was getting late and my roommate wasn't done with her art event, so I went to the bathrooms and found luxurious bathtubs and showers with lots of plush towels. I decided I might as well take a shower there, and I was mostly done and just drying off when I heard my dachshund barking outside the bathroom. Pretty sure he was getting into trouble, I grabbed a big towel, wrapped it around me and ran out of the bathroom. He was being all bossy at one of the visitors who had come in the door, so I went to grab him. He tried to run away and turned into a very old man, who fell over as I tried to catch his ankle. People were watching us now and I was explaining how it was actually my dog and this was his tactic for avoiding getting in trouble when I woke up. Talk about strange.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Dog Wars

Life with four dogs in the house is definitely an adventure.

I know I've mentioned before that we have two dogs who live with us upstairs- a fluffy hotdog dog who moved in here with me (referred to in this post as Noodle) and a great big puppy who I've been referring to as Fang, who is generally big and goofy and was adopted by my girlfriend a couple of months ago. Noodle and Fang get along just fine, especially now that Noodle is over his fear issues and Fang is feeling more part of the family through our efforts of the past several weeks. If only there was only an upstairs to the house, but no, downstairs with my girlfriend's parents live no less than two more dogs: a massive but sweet-natured dog who weighs as much as I do (Hero) and a little, fuzzy teddy bear dog, his faithful Sidekick.

When Fang came to live in the house (before I did), my girlfriend and her mom tried (carefully) to introduce Fang to Hero. They met on leash a couple of times without too much drama, but then during the last attempt, ended up in a fight. No one was too physically damaged, fortunately. But ever since, Hero and Fang have not gotten along. No one wants another fight, so Hero and Sidekick have to be put in the back room anytime Fang needs to go outside (and therefore pass through the downstairs). It used to be just Hero who would be put away, until Sidekick tried to attack Fang seemingly unprovoked by anything other than the fact that he witnessed the earlier fight and wanted to support his Hero. So now both of them have to be lured into the back room with treats to be temporarily shut in. Any time Hero and Sidekick smell Fang being led through their downstairs territory, they let it be known what they think of the situation, as loudly as possible. As a matter of fact, Hero and Sidekick have been getting louder and louder in general since Fang came to live upstairs.

Another thing is that big dogs have a lot of energy, and gigantic puppies especially require a lot of walking. Fang came to my girlfriend (rescued from being tied out in a barn with only occasional food and water) completely untrained. She has a natural gift for getting animals to do what she wants, and has no trouble getting horses to listen to her, much less a naturally submissive dog. So he heels very well and is good on leash. The problem is that he's still a puppy, and he's big and strong and constantly wants to wrestle. Therefore, walking him is a physically demanding job. I haven't tried, but I'm pretty much positive it isn't something I should attempt. I learned my lesson during my very short-lived attempt to volunteer at my local shelter by walking the big dogs. I'm not very strong on a good day and run out of energy quickly. So this is why my girlfriend was the only one walking Fang since he got here a couple of months ago.

My girlfriend has carpal tunnel, which occasionally flares up at the least convenient times possible and renders her hands more or less useless. When she started her student teaching a few weeks ago, she was already having some problems which stress made ten times worse. It culminated in her staying home, completely drugged on pain medication, for two days last week. This was a bit difficult from the dog angle because poor Fang couldn't get any of his usual walks without my girlfriend's mom doing it for us. She doesn't have the same health problems I do, but hers also render her tired and weak a lot of the time, so it wasn't an arrangement that could last. We ended up pretty much convinced that we were going to have to find him a new home if walking him was too hard on my girlfriend's hands. We both got very sad about it because things were going so well with Noodle and Fang's relationship, plus Fang's relationship with me was getting stronger every day.

My girlfriend's mom got a good idea to try to come up with a way to walk the dogs without using hands. She got us a bungee cord, which didn't work, but we modified the idea. It took some fiddling, but we managed to rig a belt with two leashes so that my girlfriend can actually walk both Noodle and Fang at the same time without using her hands at all. She turns slightly to give corrections, and there is a dog on either side of her so that she can correct one without confusing the other. We were so relieved when we found a solution because both of us love Fang to death and didn't want to give him up.

So now the challenge we have is to try to smooth out the relationship between Fang and Hero, at least to the point of less barking and no more marking of territory (which Hero has done in the house since Fang moved in, more often at first but still occasionally now). Having watched a ton of Dog Whisperer episodes, I'm trying to get my girlfriend to walk Hero and Fang together because she's the natural leader of the household and I think that will help. She wants to work with Hero by himself first to remind him who's boss which is totally the first thing to do. I wish I could do it, being the one with time and functional hands, but I can't physically control a 60-pound dog on leash, much less one 60-pound dog and one that weighs just slightly less than I do, at the same time and when they may want to fight each other. So we're waiting until her hands recover a bit more. They are already a lot better this week- thanks to the belt contraption and me being her typist- so hopefully we can start working towards peace between the two packs of the house sometime soon.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Six-Armed Demon Movie

I had a freaky nightmare a couple nights ago, complete with hallucination. I had completely forgotten to turn the lamp next to my bed on. Well, I won't be forgetting that again any time soon, at least.

The dream was about me accidentally seeing an ad for a horror film and then freaking myself out over it. I was at my grandparents' house, and it was late at night. I was watching tv because someone else had turned it on and I couldn't figure out how to turn it off. I needed to be asleep and I was exhausted. I was also totally alone in the house and kept hearing the occasional creepy noise in another room, so I was already kind of freaked out before the ad came on. It was for this new movie that was about a demon. He looked like a little boy with pointy ears and teeth and he had six arms that ended in long sharp nails. He could scuttle across the walls and melt in and out of them. It seriously creeped me out to the point where I kept imagining him being right behind me, which happens in real life if I get too creeped out by something on tv or in a movie. Only in the dream it was more real- and half the time he was actually there for a second before suddenly disappearing. Then, in real life, my alarm went off and I opened my eyes, to see an image of the boy demon's face inches above mine. I jumped because it scared me and the image dissolved and blew away, exactly how it would if it had been made out of sand and the wind came. It was so bizarre it took me a minute to realize I had been hallucinating. I sat up and turned on lights and clung to my girlfriend for a minute and it was awhile before I dared to go back to sleep.