I know what you're thinking, especially those of you who are parents. "Every day is a gift from God, each day is a blessing." "We can't control the things that happen to us, only the way we react -- nothing has to ruin your day unless you allow it to." I could go on and on -- we moms have a million different ways of expressing this sentiment, and on most days I actually believe all of this Positive Attitude stuff. Not today.
It all began shortly after 7:30 when I was almost home from my morning walk with the dogs. Our hard work with training is paying off, and they are amazingly good loose leash walkers 90% of the time, constantly "checking in" with me, sitting at every curb and waiting until I give them permission to proceed, etc. I am SO proud of how well they both behave when I walk them together on the tandem lead. The only area we still need improvement on is that they go a little nuts when they see certain other dogs. You know, they get all excited, pulling and straining and hopping up and down, like some grown women I know might do if they saw someone like, oh, Bono from U2 strolling down the opposite sidewalk, naked... ;-) It's not every dog, not all the time, and not always the dogs you would expect. For instance, there is this one little Yorkie dog who looks deceptively innocent and sweet to us humans, even while projecting silent doggy insults and blasphemy toward other dogs. The Yorkie pulls and strains on his leash, too -- very Scrappy Doo, "Lemmee at'em!" However, the Yorkie probably weighs a couple of ounces, so his owner just smiles and waves and makes no attempt to get her dog to behave. Whereas Otto and Lulu each probably weigh a good sixty pounds by now, and I have to dig in my heels and lean backward if the two of them start lunging and pulling and going nuts. I've been working on getting my dogs to sit and obey some commands for treats while other dogs walk by, to keep their focus on me and condition them to ignore the other dogs we see. They had been getting better and better at this, until today. I'm telling you, something is UP with this particular Yorkie! We passed him twice on our walk this morning, and the first time my distractions worked and Otto and Lulu behaved liked the amazing, obedient superpups I know and love. I admit it; I was feeling smug. Pride cometh before the fall... So, when we were headed back down our street and I saw the same Yorkie and his human strolling down to our cul-de-sac ahead of us, sauntering toward my own house, I weighed my options. There wasn't another way I could go to get home, and the Yorkie was going to pass us on the way back no matter what because the cul-de-sac is a dead-end. I had get home to wake up the boys and get them ready for camp, and it was getting late. I gave the Yorkie what I thought was enough of a head start, and led my dogs back towards my house. Well, when we passed the Yorkie, who was headed back out of the cul-de-sac on the opposite side of the street from us by now, my pups went cuckoo crazy, I lost my balance and pitched forward and got pulled A COUPLE OF INCHES into the road. That's a really important detail -- my dogs stopped pulling as soon as they realized I had fallen; they did NOT drag me across the street, and if they were wild and uncontrollable and just took off, I would have been hurt much worse. As it was, I skinned both knees and scraped my right arm pretty badly because I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt and I crash-landed at the curb. Mostly I just hurt my pride and felt foolish. The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day had begun.
After bandaging my knees and elbow and taking the boys to camp, I returned home to meet the Stanley Steemer crew that I'd scheduled to clean the master bedroom carpet as well as the upstairs hall and both staircases. The carpets weren't really dirty, per se; I knew there had been some coffee dribbles on the stairs and in the hall and there was one puppy accident in the master bedroom. I let the carpet cleaner guy talk me into also having him clean a large wool area rug in my kitchen as well as the wall-to-wall wool carpeting in my formal living room. Oh, and he suggested adding deodorizing as well, "since I have pets." [NOTE: If I was technically savvy, I'd rig this blog post so that Chopin's Funeral March started to play when you got to this part of my day.]
They started with the wool living room carpet. I went upstairs to make beds and straighten up. When I came downstairs, I immediately smelled a nasty odor that reminded me of the rank, stinking Diaper Genie we used to have in the nursery when the boys were babies. I mentioned this to the carpet cleaner dude, and he reassured me that this was the normal smell of wet wool, nothing to worry about, it will go away when it dries. And I know that wet wool has a certain funky smell, but my olfactory memory was fuzzy and although my brain was taking me straight back to the Diaper Genie era, I was not positive at this point that it wasn't just wet wool that I was smelling. I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt, and went into my office and attempted to work. The stench intensified, and blossomed like an evil perfume with notes of mildew, sour milk, and Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder. I stepped outside to the mailbox, and when I came back in the house I was overpowered by the sensation that I had entered a wet basement full of moldy upholstery, forgotten sweaty athletic socks, and a broken sump pump. And still that sicky-sweet, brain-squishing, cloyingly overpowering stench of baby powder sticking to my lungs with every breath. Well, by this time they're done cleaning, and I object again -- with urgency! -- about the smell. That's when Carpet Cleaner Guy goes into his quasi-scientific spiel about how the cleaning process "activates bacteria when it's wet" and this creates the unpleasant odor that will go away when the carpet dries. He tells me that the deodorizer he used contains a baby powder fragrance to "help with the smell from the bacteria" -- AFTER he's pumped this deodorizer all over the house, he tells me about the fragrance! And, on top of that, he proudly tells me that HE MIXED THE DEODORIZER/PERFUME IN AN EXTRA STRENGTH CONCENTRATION for my home since he knows some people don't like the smell of wool carpets when they are cleaned. As Charlie Brown would say, "AAAAAAAAARRRRRGGGHH!!!!" My eyes bulged out of my head, steam came out of my nostrils and ears, and my reddened face began to spin wildly like that girl in The Exorcist. I am very sensitive to fragrances, and there is NO WAY I would have agreed to the deodorizer if I knew it was basically a baby powder fragrance that just masks other odors temporarily. I was livid, but what was done was done, I had kids to pick up from camp, and the dude who thinks he can scare me with big words like "bacteria" claimed the stink would dissipate in a couple of hours, anyway.
I picked up my kids, and took them to my parents' house to go swimming with their cousins while I finished up some work in my office. Alas, when I walked into my house, the stench hit me like a ton of football players slamming into the other guy who has the ball (I'm branching out into sports metaphors; do you like it?). Dissipate, my ass! I stormed around, which didn't help. I lit some Bamboo Teakwood scented candles, which also didn't help, so I blew them out. I went upstairs and was horrified to see that the wall-to-wall carpeting in the hallway and master bedroom was all stretched out and wrinkled like a belly that just had a baby, with several bulges and wrinkles big enough to trip over. If I was any angrier, my head would have exploded. I staggered downstairs to in search of emergency chocolate and to pet my dogs, and then once my blood pressure came down somewhat, I called the manager of the Stanley Steemer franchise. I told him how my carpet, which is only a few years old and looked -- and smelled! -- pristine and lovely yesterday, is now stretched out, stinky, and foul; that my once-lovely home now smells as though it was a recently flooded daycare centere awash with sewage, and how profoundly unhappy I am about all of these developments. This gentleman informed me that they use the baby powder fragrance because it doesn't bother anyone (??!!!), that the smell should go away in a few days, and since there was nothing else he could do about it now, he didn't feel like talking to me anymore. Have I entered some parallel universe today?!
So now I'm going to have to hire someone else to clean these carpets again, to get rid of the Eau de Baby Powder et Mildew Poo fragrance that apparently offends no one besides me, and then I'm going to have to pay someone else to restretch the carpeting and get rid of the crazy wavy mountain range wrinkles all over my bedroom floor. There is slight consolation in the fact that I paid Stanley Steemer with my American Express card, however. I have already initiated a charge dispute on the grounds that the carpets are dirtier than they were prior to the cleaning, they stink to all hell, and they are stretched out and damaged, requiring repairs. I love the nice people at American Express! Still, what a headache! Who has time for this?!
You might be thinking, "Wow, what a lousy day Rebecca has had! Surely this is enough misfortune, heartache, and house wreckage for one day!" But you would be wrong.
The setting: Bed time, Anders' bedroom. Two little boys, one good book (Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians) and one tired, worn-out Mommy who just wants to enjoy story time with her kids and put an end to this ill-fated day. Enter two puppy dogs who spent more time than usual in their crates this afternoon, who want nothing more than to play World Wide Wrestling and Bark Like Crazy If You Want My Chew Toy. It took me a good 10-15 minutes to get them quieted down and settled in with appropriate bones to gnaw on quietly so the boys could hear me reading, and then we got engrossed in our story. It's suspenseful, zany, and unexpected -- just what I needed to take my mind off the day behind me and enjoy special time with Anders and Lars. My narrative was accompanied by the reassuring hum of the air conditioning and the soothing, rhythmic scraping sound of puppy dog teeth against dog bones. Except that it turned out not to have been dog bones, but the wooden leg of Anders' Pottery Barn desk chair that they were chewing. It was pretty badly damaged by the time I discovered this treachery, and the dogs looked up at me like, "Hi, Mommy, aren't we good dogs to chew the chair so quietly without fighting so you could read?"
In the famous words of Marie Antoinette, shortly before the revolutionaries chopped off her head: "Mes pauvres enfants, mes yeux n'ont plus delarmes pour pleurer pour vous. Adieu!" That is, "My poor children, my eyes have no more tears to cry for you. Adios!" I might add, my throat has no more screams to scream for my poor chair, for my carpet, for my knees and elbows that make me look like a child just learning to ride a bicycle (except for being old and everything). It is time to climb into the safe haven of my bed, hide under the covers, and think happy thoughts until sleep comes to wash the day away and bring me a shiny new tomorrow so I can start all over again.
But first, optimist that I am, I have to take a peek at the slender upside to this Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day:
- My loved ones are safe and healthy. Nothing bad happened today to those who carry pieces of my heart around with them wherever they go.
- Other than my scrapes and bruises, I didn't get hurt today. Considering how hyped up they were about that Yorkie, my furbabies showed amazing self control and obedience by immediately stopping pulling when I fell. I suffered no car wrecks or heart attacks; I didn't get eaten by hyenas or infected with Anthrax or anything horrible like that.
- Carpets can be cleaned and stretched; it's an inconvenience, but not the end of the world. I'm lucky to live in a nice home that has carpets and blankets to hide beneath at the end of a difficult day.
- My puppies, my little boys, my husband, and my parents were all wonderful to me today. I even had dinner with my two Chicago nephews who are visiting for a week, which was another bright spot in an otherwise gloomy day.
- Pottery Barn, Schmottery Barn. That chair spins on a swivel base; I can just turn the damaged leg to the inside of the desk and no one will see it. Who are we kidding -- with so many toys, Pokemon cards, and chaos in that boy's bedroom, no one is EVER going to notice the chewed up desk chair leg unless I point it out. And if they had to chew a chair leg, that one belonged to what is probably the least expensive chair in my entire house.
- There are only four minutes left of today, and then tomorrow is coming, all fresh and new and empty like a blank blog post that can be anything I want it to be. It's going to be a great day!