Thursday, October 29, 2015

Home Is Where the Field Is

Football hadn't exactly been kind to me lately. Just two short months after marrying my Coach in December 2015 {and six short months after moving to the Yankee state of Ohio}, I was back to living the single girl life in Cbus... only this time, my fur baby Jolene was my bed buddy and my new husband was a state away coaching in Michigan. When the opportunity arose a year later to pursue a full-time position at a {gasp!} D1 school in my home state of Kentucky, it sounded like a no brainer. Until we visited "The Head".

While I wanted to experience living with my Coach, I didn't necessarily want to give up all the things about Columbus that had become near and dear to my heart. Sure, there were the frivolous things {like Zest Juice and Dewey's Pizza, Target and multiple-movie-playing cineplexes} - but there were more serious aspects to a move too. I'd miss my Pure Barre pals, my co-workers and my amazing progressive Catholic church, my boxing club, my unbelievably motivating trainer, and most of all - everything that had to do with the fur babies {now up to two, if you're keeping track}. I would be walking away from a life that I had {albeit hesitantly} taken up two years ago... when I first left the South for {you guessed it} football and love.

And yet, there was really no choice. Football chose for us. With appropriate fanfare, I did a farewell tour of Columbus {see #CBUSfarewelltour, I think?!} and packed up another classroom {4th one if you're counting} and moved to the base of the mountains. In case you were wondering, there are no "farm to table" restaurants, no hot yoga studios, no boxing clubs, and no juice bars with flavored cashew milk. There is no Target and {to everyone's amazement who knows me} there is no Pure Barre. There is a very well-run recreational center on campus. And a Buffalo Wild Wings. I told myself I would not only survive, but thrive.

Fast forward through the summer, and I was still trying to tread water in a pond that couldn't seem to hold me. I wasn't UNhappy, but I wasn't quite comfortable yet either. Truthfully, I don't know if it will ever be quite the right fit, but I'm learning a lot about myself {in a very non-granola, hippie kind of cliche way}. And I'm starting to find the things that I love. Believe it or not, this revelation of sorts started at {where else} the football field. {Cue the cloying exclamations like "oh" and "ah"}

The best thing about Morehead is that I am making a family that I never got to finish at any of our other schools. Regardless of the weather, I hit up practice at least once a week {- would be there everyday if that didn't make me look like a slightly deranged stalker/mother figure}. More than ever before, I KNOW our boys... their birthdays, their sense of humor, their snack preferences.... I know things like:

1. Justin will also seem slightly stand-offish and aloof. That doesn't mean he doesn't like me {I hope}.

2. He also looks like Morris Chestnut. For real.

3. Braylyn will always stay after practice with Justin and whomever else wants to get better that day. {That makes me want to spend more time making myself better at what I do too}.

4. Adam will always be surrounded by random blonde sorority girls after games. I will always give him a hard time about it.

5. My Cincinnati boys will always be at Sunday morning mass. {That makes me want to be better at that too}.

6. Dom will always find a way to get hurt. His mother will always roll her eyes about it. She will also always have the best tailgate food. And let me crash her party.

7. Eric Pugh's little girl smiles just like him. I hope she gets his tenacity too.

8. Hats are not for everyone {ahem, my husband and his wannabe relationship with the visor}. Except for Melon - Melon can wear all types of hats and get away with it.

9. B. Louder will always find a way to be an important part of the team, injured or not.

10. B. Duncan is the most amazing older brother. {Just ask his little sisters.... they are tough critics}.

11. Trey and Sayyid are very quiet, but they are always thinking something. And when I least expect it - the best one liners come out in the calmest voices.

12. It's extremely fun to yell Shavi's full name over and over before and after extra point kicks and field goal attempts. {5/5 football WAGS at Morehead agree}.

13. Turk could run through a wall. Especially if he is hungry.

14. There is nothing more hilarious than watching the Special Teams kickers and punters during practice.

Between these boys and the Morehead State Football WAGS {wives and girlfriends. You'd know that if you watched E!} have made my little pond a lot deeper. For once, football seems to have done me a service. Not because we're winning, and not because an Eagle is a pretty kick-ass mascot. {And not because I look AMAZING in royal blue and gold... well, partially?!} I don't know if we will win a championship. I don't know how long football will keep us here. But I do know that the old adage is true. Home is where the field is. Even if the closest juice bar is 72 minutes away....


Friday, February 27, 2015

Pick Your Poison {Control}

Despite taking an extensive hiatus since my last post, I can assure you that things in the Berry-Perin house have not slowed in the least. Actually, we've ramped up the crazy by adding another fur baby to our family. Havoc is aptly named; since his adoption at the end of January, I've seen the wee hours of morning more than I did during my 20s... minus the sequins, stilettos, and {drink} specials.

In addition to upending my sleep schedule and destroying our carpets, Havoc has also thrust Jolene into the role of big sister. Jolene has long wanted a sibling {look forward to an upcoming blog that share insight into how Havoc became a Berry-Perin}; however, she has truly been the epitome of the eldest child. She finds fault in many of Havoc's less than stellar mannerisms and continually reminds him of her superiority by perching regally on EVERY piece of furniture we own. However, last week Jolene had her "Marsha, Marsha, Marsha" moment and shouldered her way back into the spotlight.

With John gone to the next football post, I'm serving as a single pup parent 90% of the time. After the first week of fast gulp food meals, I finally felt comfortable to cook myself a meal. Jolene had Havoc entertained and I successfully cooked up some ground turkey for spaghetti. Just as I was congratulating myself with a goat cheese garnish and a glass of white wine, I noticed Havoc giving the "look". This wild eye is one of his tells that perhaps, he may have to "go hurry". Thinking back on the number of times I'd "Nature's Miracle"'d the carpets that day, I quickly scooped him up to sprint downstairs into the frigid night air. I didn't think I had anything to worry about - Jolene was always able to handle herself in a responsible manner for a few moments unattended. While Havoc relieved himself, I savored the thought of the drama free dinner awaiting me upstairs...

Except that the drama was about to be cranked up to telenovela status. Upon re-entering the home, I became instantly suspicious. Jolene had started as the door cracked open and threw herself into her crate. There were bits of plastic littering the kitchen floor and the smell of spoiled meat wafted to meet me. My stomach immediately dropped, and I magically morphed into SVU's own Olivia Benson, sussing my way to some answers.

Earlier in the evening, I had taken the meat container from dinner and some old lunch meat and secured them in a plastic bag for removal from the apartment. This would keep the dogs from whining and the apartment from smelling like anything other than puppy breath and Febreze. I'd planned on discarding the trash when I next took Havoc out that night. However, due to our abrupt departure, I'd forgotten the trash on the {otherwise clean and empty} counter.

A quick and thorough search of the premises proved that Jolene was indeed the sole perpetrator in stealing this contraband and wolfing down the rancid meat, along with {I noted to my INTENSE chagrin} the sponge that lays beneath meat in its plastic packaging. So I did what any adult woman living alone with two children under the age of 2 would do: I called my Mom. When that didn't work, I called my husband. And when that {surprisingly?!} came up empty, I text my dog trainer. My last life line spent with no hard and fast answers, I reached the final possibility - one that, since our embarrassing visit there last summer, I was most hesitant to utilize... The Ohio State Emergency Veterinary Hospital.

My fear and hysteria bubbled over as the receptionist asked me how she could help. The vet tech fell silent upon hearing that Jojo had scarfed a combination of meat and plastic that could hold any number of bacteria and other implications. NOTHING and NO ONE were helping, and my Tiger Mother instinct finally kicked in to hyper drive.

"Then who do I call?! And what do I do?!"  

I raged like Hurricane Katrina in her first hours ashore in Louisiana. I refused to wait and see as so many had suggested. There was NO WAY that my baby was going to sit through the night with plastic and raw poultry in her stomach. She had food allergies for Pete's sake! The vet tech finally yielded something valuable and suggested calling the Animal Poison Control hotline {no, I'm not making this up - it exists}. I jumped at the suggestion, slammed down the phone, and dialed my only hope at deliverance and good health. 

As I waited for the line to connect, I started filling Jolene's water bowl with a very exact ratio of hydrogen peroxide. Thank Heaven for the National K9 Puppy Preschool presentation on Dog First Aid during Jolene's star pupil turn in the class. I remembered our fabulous trainer Erica reminding us all solemnly that hydrogen peroxide could immediately cause a dog to vomit if necessary. Jolene helpfully lapped up the mixture and I fielded questions from the APC hotline operator while covering my kitchen floor in plastic trash bags. 

While explaining for the tenth time the contents of Jolene's stomach, my fur baby started to dry heave. Within minutes I was wrist deep in rancid turkey, feverishly searching for the sponge. The exultation in my voice shocked the APC's faceless figurehead as I crowed, 

"Nevermind. It's all here. She's vomited and it's all here!"

In the aftermath, I sat in my freshly cleaned kitchen stroking Jolene as she laid next to me, lapping small amounts of water to cleanse her palate. I called everyone whom I'd initially alerted and proudly laid out my emergency parent savvy. The post-traumatic experience bliss didn't last long though. As I pat myself on the back once more, I happened to look in Havoc's crate. He'd been so quiet and angelic during this entire episode. It was only then that I realized that he was sitting in a pool of puppy pee. Wagging his tail. 

Cry "HAVOC" and let slip the dogs of war... Yes, when we picked out this pup to match his equally entertaining sis, we truly picked our poison.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

All Dogs Go to Heaven

So this year at school, we got a nun. As a child, nuns in the Catholic school system were pretty commonplace. We always had a couple in plain clothes - rapping knuckles and sniffing out gum {Sr. Teresa) or making notes about pencil marks on art work while singing songs about "Happy Cats" {Sr. Charlene}. However, as time passed, a nun - especially one in full habit, no less - has become similar to the mythical unicorn. We imagine the possibility of them without actually seeing them in "real life". When I was young, it should also be noted that I wanted to BE a nun {for a minuscule stint while learning about the rosary and its importance to prayer}. Therefore, my fixation with wimples, and "penguin suits" is long standing. I started out highly enthusiastic about her presence - until the day she revealed herself to be {almost} soulless...

Each week, I'd prepare my class for the nun's arrival. We'd discuss the appropriate way to address her {Yes, Sister... No Sister} and questions not to ask {Don't you ever change your clothes?}. I'd carefully remind them not to correct her grammar or word choice {She is European, and English is very much NOT her first language}. To the class' credit, they'd adapted well to having her in and out each week. Most of her lessons closely mirrored our textbook and they were in awe of her clothing and lilting speech. In their innocent minds, she could have been the Virgin Mary - until the day she discussed All Souls Day.

Most Catholics know that All Souls Day and All Saints Day are inexplicably linked in Catholic school lessons. Though overshadowed by Halloween, they are important feast days and can occasionally get you out of school for at least an hour for mass. But Sister was adamant that all students {regardless of age, class, color, or creed} should know the importance of All Saints Day - and that ALL humanity could strive to sainthood and the glories of heaven. She painted a beautiful picture of angels, light, and love. It could have all ended blissfully and we could have gone right back to making construction paper witches. But then, she opened the floor for questions.

All teachers are aware of the dangers of allowing students to ask ANY questions - particularly if the topic is Religion at a school where many students are non-Catholic and think the crucifix is a "plus sign". Sister is the epitome of Julie Andrews/Maria naiveté though, and feels that honesty in all cases {especially those where immortal souls are involved} is imperative. So when one of my students earnestly mentioned how he was eager to get to heaven with the saints and his recently deceased dog, I knew that the bucolic picture being portrayed on my Calendar Carpet was about to come to a screeching halt that not even St. Michael the Archangel could stop.

Upon hearing the wee tot's comment, I abruptly stopped typing homework reminders and tried to catch the eye of the young nun. But it was too late, she was already talking - and what she said was the shot heard round the world to a group of seven year olds {and their fur baby loving teacher}.

"But your pet will not be there," her broken English explained. "Animals don't have souls."

The slow motion montage in my head began - me launching myself away from the computer and towards the Calendar Carpet. Going airborne to tackle Sister to the ground and shove a whiteboard eraser into her mouth. Clapping my hands over the ears of each child {impossibly} to block those words that were devastating to all of us. I was snapped out of my nightmare by the sound of uncontrollable, hysterical sobbing - a chorus of  turmoiled children whose dogs, cats, and gerbils were now burning in the pits of Hell or languishing in Purgatory {the theme of last week's nun lesson}. 

Sister looked at me with anxious eyes and scrambled to cover her ass. But it was too late. The damage had been done and the children were having none of her backtracking. As I hurried her into the corner she looked at me and asked innocently - "but what I should have done? Lie to them?"

YES! Unequivocally, irrevocably, unabashedly YES. You should have lied. Or better yet you should have DIVERTED. The top tool of teachers everywhere who come upon a question that is not appropriate or that will open the proverbial Pandora's Box. You point out the amazingly shiny rosary beads in your pocket or that it is snack time. But you DO NOT {under any circumstances} open your mouth to insert your foot. And this is why teaching our youth should not be left to amateurs. 

After ushering our guest out, I swept back to the sea of tears to do damage control. One of my faves {we all have them - don't lie} looked up at me with tear-streaked cheeks and blubbered, "But my M-m-mom said he was in HEAVEN!" before falling into a fresh deluge of waterworks. And those tears, paired with my own steadfast belief propelled me into a sermon for the ages...

"Well what do Y'ALL think?!" I postured vehemently. "Because I think that if God gave us such amazing friends with four legs that we love so much that He would NOT take them from us forever. God made them each special and unique - just like us. And none of us have even BEEN to Heaven. Not even her." And with that I folded my arms with a "that's that" air of finality and led the way back to construction paper witches. 

As we picked up the pieces and rewrote Catholic doctrine, another small voiced piped up amid the hum of happy work. "Mrs. Perin is right... Someone should show Sister that movie we watched in first grade... "All Dogs Go to Heaven". Damn straight, Kid - I thought as I returned to my homework reminders. Because if Heaven doesn't have four-legged greeters, I'd just as soon stay home. 


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Up in the Air

I've never been what you'd call a jet setter. Flying to various destinations wasn't something that thrilled me - rather it was the obvious way to travel to far-flung locales to engage in adventures with a revolving cast of characters. During my college days, I was quite the traveller - getting briefly detained in a Russian airport for additional passport check... meeting a Spring Break fling for an ill-fated weekend in Colorado Springs... serving as an additional {literal} crutch for my childhood best friend as we navigated La Guardia and Grand Central Station... dragging my younger brother into his window seat when a turbaned man entered the cabin on a post 9/11 flight to Philly... My college dorm room cork board displayed each ticket stub as a badge of honor - I was going to be a worldly woman!

As time went on, the opportunities and flight destinations gradually trickled to a stop. Until this weekend it had been two YEARS since I'd set foot on a metal bird. {Though not for lack of trying - I've planned several unsuccessful trips to San Francisco and even turned up at the airport for a weekend trip to Huntsville. I left the Columbus Airport in a blaze of righteous anger after my flight was pushed back three times in an hour.} So it was with mounting trepidation and a minimal amount of excitement that I arrived {an hour and a half early} to the Southwest terminal to head to Spartanburg, SC for a Pure Barre training.

My boarding passes pre-printed and my carry on bag packed with travel-safe toiletries and lululemon attire, I flashed my ID at the disinterested TSA officer and joined the throng searching for departure gates... immediately finding my plane to be delayed. My already jangled nerves took another hit {I'd already been close to tears while dropping off Jolene at the kennel and had strong armed my mother into confirming that "whatever happened to me, she would get to Jolene immediately in case of emergency"}. This wasn't the great return to the friendly skies that I'd imagined...

Several hours, two boardings, three packs of peanuts, one bumpy landing, and 10 chapters of a library book later, I made it to Spartanburg's airport. Or at least, that's what the sign said. I quizzically checked out the extensive renovations occurring throughout the large rectangular room that boasted an "international airport". Chalking up my bad attitude to fatigue and mild motion sickness, I quickly found my town car and set up an internal tally - two take-off/landings down, two more to go! Little did I know that my desire to "fly away home" was about to hit major turbulence.

Post training, I returned to the "little airport that could" and posted up next to the "healthy foods" kiosk {which coincidentally boasted a meager smattering of KIND bars, dried fruit, and diet drinks}. My flight was already delayed and I'd already called my mother to rail on the lack of civilized dining options at the airport. Upon leaving, I was elated and thought that my time in "holding patterns" was over. Then I landed in Baltimore and the real fun began. {I really can't make this stuff up}.

Upon my arrival to Baltimore {crab cakes and football - that's what Maryland does! - sorry, random movie quote}, the death blow was dealt. My flight, scheduled to leave in 2 hours at 10pm, had been pushed back to 1 in the morning. In record time, I experienced the 12 stages of grief... I shouldered my bag, now a little heavier, and made my way to the food court. From my past days as a frequent flyer, I vaguely remembered a Jamba Juice stationed in the center of a concourse. My spirits lifted at the thought of a frozen, fruity concoction.

And there was a Jamba Juice {cue "Chariots of Fire" as I slow motion run towards the register}... only the night got even better, as I noticed a line of disgruntled customers begin to harangue the cashier. Apparently, the less than stellar staff of Jamba Juice had either mishandled the computer system or couldn't work the super blenders. "Tirty minute wait", the cashier screeched in broken English as two young women with brightly colored talons and heavy gold hoops lounged against the counter in Jamba Juice visors. I may have had four hours, but I sure as hell wasn't spending them waiting for this Rihanna video to wrap!

My will was breaking and the idea to rent a car was starting to sound pretty appealing. I grudgingly bought another book, contemplated a Baltimore Ravens sweatshirt to stay warm {at least I am fascinated by Ray Lewis?}, and tried to stay reasonably healthy with a Chipotle burrito bowl. I hunkered down in the airport equivalent to a La-z-boy and {unsuccessfully} fought the urge to purchase an Auntie Anne's pretzel {survival mode and carb loading had set in}.

I rotated reading and riffling through iPhone photos of my dog as the hours passed until mercifully, an angel named Chuck announced the arrival of flight 476, service to Columbus. While my fellow passengers emitted shouts of joy and a couple wolf whistles, I gritted my teeth for another take-off. As I called my mother and husband to announce the final leg of the journey from Hell, I hissed my intent to NEVER fly again unless heavily medicated. And yet, the story still wasn't over. I took my seat and {ashamedly} almost burst into tears when several questionable individuals boarded without carry-ons or reading material { I took this a sure sign of terroristic intent}. An hour later, passing in and out of a sleep stupor, I said a prayer of thanks as we FINALLY took off!

My way too eventful trip finished rather quietly. Aside from getting momentarily confused as to where I'd parked my car,  I made it home quickly and I gratefully crawled into bed at 3pm. For now, I can safely say that the only "flight" I want to see is one of wine samples. Cheers to keeping my feet on the ground for awhile.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Sacramental Shenanigans

I've only recently cooled down enough to capture this epic event for the blog. Every time I thought of it, my skin crawled and my blood boiled - definitely not physical changes that should be synonymous with the Catholic sacraments {but nevertheless}. At the beginning of May, my students received the sacrament of First Eucharist, one of {I believe} THE quintessential components of growing up Catholic {can I get an "Amen"?!}. Despite my best intentions and irrepressible excitement, I should have known it was a bad sign when the priest in charge chose Derby Day for the blessed event.

"But that's Derby Saturday!" I exclaimed, aghast. {I foolishly thought that this was also a high holy day nation-wide; however, Yankees from the barbaric Buckeye State apparently don't understand this tried and true tradition}. My cries went unheard and the date was marked in ink - on the morning of Derby 2014, ten {mildly} holy 2nd graders would receive Jesus in Body and Blood. I vowed to make it an event to remember and trusted in the Religious Education office to steer me in the right direction. {Little did I know, they couldn't steer a rotary bike - much less a sacramental mass of this magnitude}. I was, as they say, up a creek {without a priest or paddle}.

As the day approached, I jumped through a variety of ill-timed hoops set by the Church Office. I found Baptismal Certificates {twice}, filled out order forms for educational paraphernalia {three times}, and asked {a million bajillion times} if there was anything else I needed to do for the preparation. I organized a parent informational meeting for Father to instruct parents and students on requirements {he didn't come}, I emailed him questions {he didn't answer} and I finally cornered him after Mass to demand First Penance for my ragtag band of lambs. {That was a fiasco for another day}. Still, I asked what else I could do - what the Mass itself needed, and I was told that it was "taken care of". {Famous. Last. Words.}

Fast forward to the week of First Eucahrist {and the week AFTER Spring Break}. I open my email to find a missal from the Church Office full of questions concerning the Mass that is to occur in FIVE days. Who's doing the music, who's officiating, who's doing the readings, what are the readings, how many First Communicants, do you want fries with that??? {The last one was NOT included, but would not have shocked me anymore than the first fifteen}. I was flabbergasted and furious - for months I'd begged for these instructions, only to receive them in the eleventh hour. I would need to {forgive the football expression - Coach's Wife, y'know} THROW A HAIL MARY.

In true Southern style, I whipped together a pretty impressive presentation. A reception, decorations, exquisite music {complete with Southern melodies... "Let Us Break Bread Together", anyone?!}. I was patting myself on the back for a job well done, despite a wrench {or five} in the plans. I had even planned an outfit that spoke to my Southern roots {and the holy occasion I was missing at home}, wearing a turquoise fascinator with last year's Derby dress. {This elicited confused looks from many parents and an adoring "Yes Ma'am" from a "Church Lady" helping with the punch}.

Father First-in-Line had presided over a shoddy rehearsal the day before First Eucharist, and lucky for me, I'd planned for that. My students had been practicing the procession all week and had it down to a science. I wasn't at all worried when they began their slow crawl down the aisle, and I even remained relatively calm during the Liturgy of the Word. Then, Father left out the Creed. {Big deal, think the Protestants}. But it WAS a big deal, because I'd broken my BACK to have them memorize {or at least impressively fake} the Nicene Creed. It was a tradition - an expectation - a necessity. And. he. left. it. out. My irritation began to spread...

Although I'd tried to beg off, it had been decided that I would serve as the extra Eucharistic Minister. This always makes me nervous, even more so due to Father First-in-Line's ultra-conservative, pre-Vatican II, put women in the back of the Church way of thinking. He had insisted on using a communion rail, and I'd had to look up the protocol in the original Gutenberg Bible {a slight joke. but only SLIGHT}. I was genuinely worried about my 10 lambs on the rail, but figured they'd be fine for the short time it took to minister the sacrament. So, relatively unconcerned {but moderately incensed}, I approached the altar  prior to communion and was met with a look from Father that would take paint off a fence {a Southern euphemism}.

He kept glaring at me, and muttering something incoherent. My anxiety level was hurtling skyward as I sidestepped to the right and left, trying {in vain} to deduce where he wanted me. He kept throwing his head towards the front of the altar and so I quick-stepped {in sky high heels and a sheath dress, with full flowered fascinator} as subtly as possible {in said outfit} to gingerly kneel beside the servers. {My perky Pure Barre "ledge" to the congregation}. Father was still grimacing and finally gnashed "THE CHILDREN" - meaning, they should be at the rail.

It was at this point that the full vitriolic weight of my fury unleashed and I shot him a look that would not only remove paint, but burn the fence to ashes as well. I turned with as much pride as I could muster and beckoned frantically for the lambs to hit the wood. Not only had Father made me look like a moron, with my backside on full display, but he'd now placed ten 7-8 year olds on a wooden rail in front of {literally} God and everybody for roughly ten more minutes of ritualistic preparation. We were {to use another well-known saying} "dead in the water".

My delusions of eucharistic grandeur died slowly as one well-dressed lad picked his nose; one little lamb picked at her stocking, and one indigent picked his butt. I cringed as they sagged out of prayer position into puddles of navy blazers and white veils. My own traditions and beliefs came crashing to a halt when I was also {strongly} encouraged to take communion on the tongue - something I'd NEVER done in my life. Finally {blessedly} it ended and I valiantly stuck it out through the reception that followed. Mercifully {although horribly for the kids}, Father didn't attend.

Later, I saw Father First-in-Line and before I could turn in the opposite direction, he approached me to tell me he wasn't "angry with me" for how First Eucharist "turned out." I bit my tongue immediately and tensed every fiber of my being. I thought about my Catholic upbringing - of my own First Eucharist experience. Of the special music piece {If I Were a Butterfly}, my mother's insistence that I couldn't wear a veil or white shoes {you're not a bride and it's not Memorial Day yet}, and how important I'd felt when Father Clarence Howard had come {briefly} to my First Communion reception and drank some of my Granny's sherbet punch. I thought of the priests who celebrated with me at Confirmation, at weekly Mass, the nuns who schooled me on the saints and the sacraments. I remembered the nun who gave me my first teaching job and the priest who married me and Coach John, and all the ones whom I'd loved and wished could have co-celebrated. And I did what {I hope and pray} would make them proud.

I turned around and stood erect, gave a piercing stare, and said in my most regal and no-nonsense nun tone {Thank you, Sisters Teresa, Charlene, and Michael Marie} - "You don't have anything to be mad about." And that's the Gospel truth.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The MedVet Miracle

On Sunday, Coach John and I loaded up the SUV with pizza and the pup. We headed out to the 'burbs to do what all young families do - play outdoor games, watch ESPN, and let "the kids" run amok for hours in a fenced in backyard. I absolutely adore these afternoons because it means that Sunday nights are quiet and uneventful. The fur diva, Jolene, takes to her bed early and without the usual antics. {Her bedtime hissy fits rival that of the most obnoxious toddler - but with more acrobatics and broken household goods}.

While Mrs. Coach and I traded school stories and the coaches compared war wounds and stud recruits, Jolene and her puppy friend Bane played a violent version of bumper cars in the backyard. We had just started our second game of {unsportsmanlike} Lawn Golf when the idyllic afternoon quiet was broken by Jolene's shrill screams. Immediately, the "Mom" gene engaged and I {unconcernedly} trampled Coach John and a Lawn Golf ladder to get to my fur-baby. She had fallen over in a panic, unable to put weight on a front paw.

After what seemed like an hour of pressing and patting, I couldn't discern any obvious injury; however Jolene was still howling to beat the band. She struggled to run after her friend, who'd been dragged from the scene of the crime and chastised severely. {It should be noted that he was NOT the cause of her outburst - but his parents are good people and were mortified}. We {note, I} made the decision to head to OSU's {uber-expensive} emergency 24 hour clinic. I knew it could be a passing pain, but didn't want to risk Jolene's mobility on the desire to eat another piece of pizza.

With much panting and groaning {on Coach John's part}, we hauled the frantic 65 lb. toddler to the car. Her consternation grew rapidly when she realized her playdate was over and tears sprang to my eyes when she couldn't hold herself upright to say goodbye. I expected the worst, driving like a maniac behind Coach John and my fur baby. {I may or may not have mildly cursed him when he made the wrong turn on campus, resulting in five more minutes of aimless driving while my baby needed critical medical care}. We came into the parking lot like a NASCAR Sprint Team and began the extraction of the patient from the back seat of the car.

It was at this point that I became slightly suspect of the severity of Jolene's injuries. Instead of waiting docilely for her father to lift her from the car, she began wriggling into smaller, faraway spaces - SNAPPING at him with her wicked jaws and laughing at our angst-ridden efforts. She would {for effect} throw out the occasional high-pitched wail to keep up what was starting to seem like an Oscar worthy charade. Nevertheless, I continued the pilgrimage to save my "child" and heaved her from the vehicle in a moment of CrossFit inspired strength.

She PRANCED into the waiting room. There's really no other word to describe it. This dog-wolf in sheep's clothing had made a miraculous recovery in the parking lot of the MedVet and was now practically tap-dancing to the desk to sign in. The secretary gave us a confused, then disdainful look as I explained that this was in fact the dog I'd called about in a state of panic earlier. At that point, I embarrassedly pushed Coach John to the receptionist desk to explain while I dragged Jolene and her shit-eating grin into a far corner.

We were surrounded by owners whose animals were in the center of real emergencies, people in TEARS and others waiting stoically with older, infirm animals. My mortification took a leap up when Jolene began crouching and baiting a geriatric retriever with a diaper to play with her. It was pushed to epic heights when a Triage 3 team came OUT with their tools so that, if in fact Jolene was the world's greatest method actor, we wouldn't be charged the astronomical fee of just walking into a patient room.

Fifteen minutes later, the sweetest veterinary student ever had poked, prodded, and dodged Jolene's advances with no diagnosis of doom. She even gamely suggested a heart listen. {Sometimes, she lied to help us save face, animals will outwardly be okay when they're internally in distress}. Jolene's heartbeat was a picture of perfect health, much like her gait and swagger as she {unperturbedly} left the building. Her parents {in contrast} hastily scampered out behind her, tails between their legs with shame.

What we'd witnessed could only be described as something of Biblical proportions. A {MedVet} miracle - where the blind shall see, the deaf shall hear, and the lame will fake an $130 injury and walk {unassisted} again...


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Adventures at the {Anti} Social {In} Security Office

After the marriage bells' toll was only an echo, I knew it was finally time to stop living as two people and officially change my name. It wasn't necessarily the feeling of nostalgia of carrying my name for {ahem} quite some time, nor the feminist fueled desire to keep my own surname. The primary reason I'd avoided formally altering my identity was my intense detestation for the DMV and the Social Security Office. Both of this institutions are a vortex of time, where no one escapes in under an hour. I was loathe to go - until I realized I'd have to take a sick day to do it. {Fortunately or unfortunately - depending on your perspective, these government strongholds tout the same schedules as schools and make it pretty tricky for honest, hard-working teachers to drop in without an absence. Since I often handily leave my honesty and work ethic by the wayside for mental health days, this didn't affect me per se....}

I did thorough research and chose to visit offices out of metro Columbus. I'd learned my lesson when pursuing background checks last year {see earlier post on Manners in the North} and knew that wandering lost through the annals of the federal building of downtown wouldn't leave me any time for a leisurely lunch or an afternoon sesh at PB. After mapping out my routes and paying close attention to the difference in hours {DMV opened 2 hours prior to Social Security - obvious starting point was the DMV}, I made sure to pack all necessary information and started my misadventure. I should have known that the federal government would never make things easy... or efficient.

I was third in line at the DMV, which greatly improved my mood. With my cheery Southern hospitality at the forefront, I smiled at the {frumpy, toad-like, totally unprofessionally pajama clad} attendant behind the desk. I clearly stated my intent to obtain an Ohio State Driver's License {only six mere months after entering the state as a resident and worker... but we'll keep that on the hush}. "Dawn" {why, why did she have to have a mullet and a redneck woman moniker?!} wasn't impressed by my manners or my pearly whites, but she was put out by the fact that I hadn't been next door to get an eye test. Undeterred by her impatience and lack of work place hygiene, I skipped next door and presented myself for inspection {20/20 - of course} then high-tailed it back over to wait for "Barb"{"Dawn"'s younger, even less helpful co-worker}.

After jumping through a few more hoops and hearing "Barb" huff loudly when I reapplied my lipstick prior to being photographed {which was totally acceptable back in the civility of the South}, I emerged with license in hand and sped off jubilantly to the Social Security office {thirty minutes away}. I would make it before the doors opened! And my joy continued... Until I arrived to a line of 20 disgruntled citizens searching for retirement pensions, ID cards, or replacement cards. {One young woman - notice I don't say "lady" - spent forty minutes speak-screaming at a facilitator because she'd lost her Social Security card with her purse at the bar in Florida. She also lost her driver's license, and needed her SS card to obtain a new license, but without a license.... you get the idea. Like I mentioned - vortex of time.}

Armed with a book and a keen eye for "observation", I watched a multitude of "foreigners" {to use my Gramps' words} comically punch buttons on the ticket window screen with looks of befuddlement. I watched the ticker tape news scroll across in 10 languages and {alternating between shame and irritation} wondered why "Merica" was the only country that catered to non-English speakers. No one in my overseas travels has ever cared if I knew what the news of the day was... Other than an hour wait {virtually a prize}, those were the highlights of the Social Security Office. I was mildly disappointed when I sat down in front of my worker and began the simple process of changing my name.

And then, it hit. The misadventure. This isn't the address you wrote on your form, the man informed me kindly/inquisitively. He indicated my newly minted driver's license and my fill out portion. And I almost abandoned my sweet Southern sensibilities. Because right there in black and red was a MISPRINT on my license. I was spitting fire by the time I left good ole SS and drove at warp speed back across town to the DMV.

Back in front of "Dawn", I calmly explained {putting some fault on myself as well} the predicament. And I would have been genteel about accepting partial responsibility for not "double checking" before I left. {I just incorrectly assume that others do their job with the same level of conscientiousness as I do... eye roll, snort...} But then "Dawn" did the unthinkable. She wrinkled her non-made up face and pointed at me with her acrylic and said.... Well you must have written it down wrong.

Let's be frank. I don't write things down wrong. I don't make letters that look like other letters. I don't make my 1's look like 7's or my 0's look like O's. Because I am a teacher of small children and I have impeccable penmanship. {And I double check my work - because I am no hypocrite!} So at that point, I lost my perky attitude and lowered my voice to a more "business-like" level. I explained to "Dawn" that I'd like to see my paperwork before she charged me to process another license. Because I didn't think I'd made a mistake. I thought she and her {Croc-wearing} co-worker had. "Dawn" started to back off of her bravado then and mumbled something about taking it in the back. I told her I'd wait - and see it BEFORE she took it to her manager. I narrowed my eyes and dug in my ballet flats {great on-the-go errand running shoes}.

Turns out, it was on "Dawn" and her illiterate ally "Barb". My address was there in "black ink only" beautifully sturdy print - and it was CORRECT. My eyes flashed in triumph as my license was reprinted and I DID NOT apologize for stopping "Barb" to reapply my lipstick AND fluff my hair. Because this Southern girl is neither anti-social, nor insecure when she's right... And let's face it, the only thing pretty about a license from "Up North" is the Southern girl smiling in it!


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