This is why I’m not good at surprises

Calling all of my massage therapists in a tizzy on Sunday morning, I had hoped to scheduled a same-day appointment. To my dismay, none were available. So I did the next best thing. I scheduled an appointment for Monday morning.

Brian overheard my call, and yelled up to me, “Wait. What time did you schedule it for?”

“9am. You’ll be sleeping.”

“Well, there’s the brunch thing for my aunt.”

I vaguely remember him mentioning this and not having any other details. “What time?”

“11.”

“Where?”

“I don’t know. Somewhere out by them.”

His uncertainty irritated me, and I immediately wished he was better about remembering details. I mentally calculated the time it would take to get approximately to his cousins’ and assumed I was fine with my appointment.

Over the course of Sunday, I asked Brian for details on the brunch at least 5 times. And each time, he brushed it off with ‘yeahs’ and ‘probablys’ and ‘oh I have to text my cousins’.

I suggested he set an alarm as I wouldn’t be there to make sure he was up and told him that I’d get home and we’d leave straight away.

On Monday morning, I asked Brian again, “Where are we going?”

And he still didn’t have an answer. Half-asleep, he told me, I’ll find out. Just go. So I didn’t have a lot of stock in this brunch thing, and I put on my favorite pair of tie-dye yoga pants and left the house.

After my massage, I assumed I’d have a few minutes to stop in the store next to Massage Envy for a quick peek. I figured it would take about a half hour to get to brunch, and I definitely thought Brian would still be slowly waking up.
As I got into the car, Brian texted me, “How’s it going?”

I told him I was on my way, and then, thinking about my outfit choice, decided to call him. “Where are we going, babe?”

His own mental calculations had done their due diligence and he realized I was probably hungry…and looking forward to brunch, as it’s one of my favorite meals.

“We’re going to Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum to see a man about a sloth.”

Wait, what?

“For brunch?”

“No, there’s no brunch.”

“Will there be food?”

Well, guys, I’ve learned something about myself, and it’s that food is always a priority. Then panic. Then excitement.

My peddle to the metal, I jetted home while talking Brian through some sort of rapid food prep.”Toast the bagel on the counter! Quick! Okay fine, I’ll just eat my leftover sammy from Panera.Gah! I’m not dressed for a sloth!”

My heart was racing a mile a minute, and I thought I might have a full-blown meltdown as I ran into the house, climbed the stairs and hunted for my slothwear. It’s  kind of amazing and crazy how excitement, anxiety, and fear all kind of have the same feelings inside you. I didn’t know whether to run, scream, or cry. I thanked God I had recently cleaned, and I knew the sloth shirt was hanging and my sloth socks were paired in my sock drawer. I painted on a little lipstick and eyeliner, brushed and dry-shampooed my hair, and ran back downstairs. I was panicked and excited and nervous and thrilled and couldn’t even believe I WAS GOING TO MEET A SLOTH!!

Brian noted my anxiety (and extreme lateness, because I’m a gigantic dickhead) and felt terrible. “I should have known better than to try to surprise you. I realized too late you were probably planning your food schedule around brunch. And you get a lot of joy around anticipation. You would have been flying high all weekend on this.”

I probably would have, but you guys…Brian was taking his day off work to DRIVE into the city and take me to see the sloth, even though we all know he would have much preferred to be at home sleeping and vegging out.

While we drove, I googled the sloth, and found out that it was a show with several animals, and that I would be able to pet Steve. I also found out that for about $275, Steve could come to my birthday party for an hour…

Brian’s cousin texted and said the sloth was last, so unless we were an hour late, we wouldn’t miss him.

We missed the flying fox, hedgehog, and fruit bat, but we got to meet a chinchilla, armadillo, kinkajou, and bat-eared fox before the main event.


There he was. In all his Steve glory. I loved him as soon as I saw him. He clung to the chair and languidly moved, enjoying the tasty sweet potatoes from his trainer. As he appeared a mere 15 feet un front of me, looking so adorable, tears started splashing down my cheek. It was really real. He was there. And I would get to pet him.

I got in line between several toddlers who had no idea how lucky they were.

Quirky Chrissy petting the adorable Steve the Sloth.

My red face? That’s because of the crying.



The woman in charge said we (all the toddlers and I) could give Steve two pets. But I gave him three, and I made them last. Slow and gentle, just like Steve. You can see where my eyes say, “I’m going for the third pet” in the video Brian was kind enough to capture for me.


We stayed until Steve left, watching him, soaking in all the amazingness of Steve and his slothy goodness. Afterward, Brian and I walked around Lincoln Park Zoo and saw ANOTHER sloth! And it was pretty much the best day ever.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Butterfly kisses, and how I kind of sort of almost died in New Orleans…twice

I love Southwest. Even when I screw up my flight reservation, I can change it lickity split for a few extra bucks, a middle-of-the-night arrival time, and a “happy fun” layover in L.A. I also love that I can stalk their rates obsessively, buy when I think it’s super low, and then change my flight when the price drops even lower. All I have to do is use those remaining funds to fly somewhere else.

Southwest free drink coupons and a bloody Mary

I especially love that Southwest regularly sends me free drink coupons.

So, it was no surprise that when December rolled around, Brian and I had a few Southwest credits that were on the verge of expiration. “Where shall we go?” I probed. I suggested a cozy cabin somewhere in the northeast or a relaxing trip somewhere chill.

“How about New Orleans?” my introverted husband of nearly 3 months suggested. We planned a trip to coincide with our 3-month anniversary (if that were even a real thing) shortly before Christmas for funsies to New Orleans. A quick Friday to Sunday weekend of indulgence. We’d eat too much, drink too much, and come home ready to face the holidays.

Unfortunately, when you live in Chicago, the best-laid winter plans get shot down because Jack Frost is kind of an asshole.


Our flight was canceled early that morning, on account of the projected snowmageddon that never came.
Luckily, we were able to cancel the New Orleans hotel we booked through TripAdvisor. Southwest offered us the opportunity to reschedule our flight anytime in the two weeks that followed our planned trip for no extra cost, and we found a better price for the same hotel the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

“Do you want to stay for New Year’s Eve?” the aforementioned introvert suggested…

“You would hate that, Brian. Even I would hate that. I did it once. Never. Again.”

So we planned to leave the Tuesday after Christmas on a 4-hour flight with a Kansas City layover.

Upon our noon-ish arrival, I was riding the Chrissy travel high, and Brian was…well…

Done. Checked out. “Sayonara, wife. You’re on your own.”

We ate some snacks, and then he went to the hotel for the rest of the evening where I’m pretty sure he slept for 18 hours. I wandered. I shopped. I ate more food. I hunted Pokemon.

Chargrilled Oysters

Sweet baby cheeses, these oysters, though.

I almost got abducted and died.

Well. Not really. But when a homeless-ish man walks up near you and yells in an attempt to scare the shit out of you, you feel like you might die. Even if you’re barely 15 feet off the main drag of Bourbon Street, just around the corner from your hotel. I started walking faster, while still trying to find an elusive Pokemon because priorities. I ran my hip right into a bicycle and could hear the man’s laughter echoing after me. I crossed the street, turned around, and walked right back to my hotel room faster than you can say Pikachu. I did not pass go. I did not collect $200.

St. Louis Cathedral from Jackson Square

When I was 19 and insane, I woke up at the crack of dawn and attended mass at the church after being out until 4 am the night before. Now, I’m content to snap a pic from Jackson Square.

The next day, Brian was up for a little bit more adventure. We ate breakfast, took a carriage tour through the French Quarter (which was actually super interesting), wandered the French Market, ate turtle soup and bananas foster at Brennan’s, and created our own special little NOLA bar crawl, eating and drinking from bar to bar to bar.

Brian and Chrissy posing by candlelight

Cozying up in the dark at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, which has no artificial light (except the Christmas twinkle lights, because Christmas).

We made our way from Bourbon Street to Frenchman Street and back again, consuming all the booze.

Drunk Brian holding a cup with his mouth.

I may have gotten Brian a smidge on the drunk side. This is a rare occurrence, so it was worth every second I was alone the next morning. Well…except when the homeless man almost stole my phone.

So when Brian wasn’t down for breakfast the next morning, I didn’t fault him. Again, I made my way out into the city on my own, wandering, eating, shopping, hunting Pokemon, hatching eggs, eating eggs…you know…me time.

I was headed to a restaurant I wanted to try, and as I walked up, the staff was shooing the homeless men away from their opening doors. I walked toward the main entrance just as one of the homeless men reached out to me and slapped my phone so hard, I thought it was a goner. I squealed and ran ahead, clutching my phone tight, the sound of laughter again trailing behind me. My heart was racing as I feared for my safety for only the second time that week. And this time, it was broad daylight in the middle of Jackson Square. Apparently, I’m not so good at traveling on my own.

Breakfast in New Orleans

Two biscuit halves topped with crawfish cakes, poached eggs, and crawfish etoufee…and a side of the cheesiest grits on the planet.

After breakfast, I went back to the hotel room and jumped on the bed to wake Brian up. I brought him a breakfast sandwich and told him it was time for adventure.

He was not in the mood for adventure.

So I took him to the bug museum. And all of a sudden his spirits were sky high. Yes. I did say bug museum. New Orleans, home of the Po’ Boy, Muffaletta, Hurricane, Hand Grenade and the best damn crawfish on the planet, is also home to a rather fancy insectarium where you can sample chocolate chirp cookies for free (Noooo thank you).

Personally, I found it a little disturbing, but I took solace knowing my museum tour would end with a trip through the butterfly garden. Plus, Brian was in heaven.


Two hours later, we finally made it to the butterfly garden, where everything was peaceful and serene until a gaggle of small children hurdled through the room, stepping on butterflies and wreaking havoc. Brian raced to the outer edge of the space, and I found the most interesting thing in the room. A pair of turtles…making sweet sweet love to one another.

I could tell you more about the trip, but nothing we did really tops two turtles banging.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

The Wonderful World of Zootopia

You want to know why your mother and I are so happy?

Because we gave up on our dreams and we settled.

So begins the plot of the latest Disney animated flick about the bullied bunny daughter of two carrot farmers as she heads to the big city of Zootopia to become the first bunny police officer. Ginnifer Goodwin’s sweet and innocent voice lends itself to the character of Judy Hopps perfectly, and compliments the sass of Jason Bateman’s foxy Nick Wilde.

Zootopia is beautiful

©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

While the message of inclusion feels a little heavy handed at times (think Fern Gully and Happy Feet), it’s a good message and one of being able to do anything regardless of who you or what others perceive of you. Shakira’s Gazelle character sings an upbeat song about trying everything, which serves as one of the main themes of the movie.

The imagery is visually stunning with vibrant colors and intricate animation depicting the tiniest details of the many climate controlled districts designed to accommodate anthropomorphic mammals of all walks of life from the arctic Tundratown to the deserts of Sahara Square.

Judy recruits hustler Nick to help her in a case which she promises the wife of a victim to help solve, despite the near loss of her job for doing so.

The film is ripe with clever one liners and adult jokes to keep childless grownups like me happy, but cute and sweet enough that I want to take my niece and nephews to see it.

Life isn’t an animated show where you sing a little song and your insipid dreams come true.

You’ll also find a few Frozen nods if you look closely enough. In one scene, two little elephants are dressed up as Anna and Elsa.

Zootopia Anna and Elsa Frozen Easter Egg

ZOOTOPIA – TUNDRATOWN. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Zootopia Easter Egg Anna and Elsa Frozen

©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Even one of the characters, Duke Weasleton, voiced by Alan Tudyk, is a subtle nod to Anna and Elsa’s foe, the Duke of Wesselton (also voiced by Tudyk).

You play cribbage with a weasel
And he cheats

A lot of stereotyping animals occurs throughout the film, but of course, my favorite scene is still the DMV sloths. Sure, they may be slow, but they are the most adorable, funniest creatures in the movie. They just look so happy! And Flash is the man.

Zootopia Sloths - Flash

©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved. I love him so hard.

The movie includes sloths (which I’m seriously hoping means there will be more sloth toys and accessories for me to collect as a result of this movie) and mention cheese; the only thing missing from my favorite things was dolphins, but maybe we’ll see Zootopia 2: Under the Sea coming soon.

Oh sweet cheese and crackers.

Zootopia Slothursday Snapchat filter

Even Snapchat was all, “Chrissy, the sloths love you and want to dance with you.” (Follow quirkychrissy on Snapchat for more weird snaps)

As Judy and Nick follow leads through Zootopia, an unlikely friendship between Predator and Prey occurs despite Judy’s fox away spray. But hey, at least she didn’t opt for the fox taser.

Oh come on; when is there not a need for a fox taser?

Zootopia Nick Wilde and Judy Hopps

©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

In the end, Zootopia acknowledges our flaws, through its humanless world and looks to a brighter future, as long as there are good guy fighting the way.

The world has always been broken; that’s why we need good cops like you.

Have you seen Zootopia yet? What animals are you most looking forward to watching on the big screen? What’s your favorite Disney movie to date?

Zootopia opens in theaters everywhere on March 4. No one paid me to say nice things, but I was able to see an early screening of the movie in order to review it. I went because of the sloth trailer. Can you blame me?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Brian Shares Saturday: He’s Back in Full Force

Well, let’s start with a little something Brian did NOT share, but he certainly made his opinion known.

Drunk Puppy

So Ash from That Ash Girl sent me this video. And it was the cutest fucking thing I’ve ever seen. So watch it. Watch it now.


And I felt the need to show Brian, because it was (I repeat) the cutest fucking thing I’ve ever seen.

Here was the conversation that followed:

Me: wants
Brian: that video played a “get a free bible, mormon commercial”… haahaha! People came to my door in college with the same thing so I asked them for a bible written in Hebrew… which is why I have a bible all written in Hebrew in my bookshelves
Me: seriously?
Me: Secondly, that’s all you have to say about the SERIOUS cuteness of that horribly named pup?
Brian: I think it was drunk.  It kept wobbling around and falling down.
Me: UGH
Brian: ?
Me: You!
Brian: That puppy was CLEARLY drunk off his ass! He couldn’t string together a coherent sentence… probably couldn’t say the alphabet, let alone backwards…couldn’t walk a straight line…probably couldn’t touch his paws to his nose. He even had that reddish nose that some chronic alcoholics get.  Drunk!
Me: Unacceptable.
  A few minutes later…
Me: So can we get one?

He never did respond to that…

Here’s the dog tag that we’ll get our future pup who will NOT be named Tebow.

If you can read this I will lick you funny dog tag

 

More of Our Future Pets

The Lizard Attacking a Grape

Brian almost didn’t send this to me…but I was standing over his shoulder while he was trolling through Reddit. And when he watched this I said, “You better send that to me!” and of course, he did, because it would not have been nice if he did not. And then I would not have made him a delicious Irish Breakfast the next day with all the Irish meaty goodness and everything fried in the same pan, even the tomatoes and onions and eggs.

But he did send it, and so like I do on Sundays at Brian’s mom’s, I made an Irish Fry and it was delightful. Whoever invented Irish sausages (bangers, white pudding, and black pudding) should seriously win an award. It’s kind of funny because I eat all the delicious Irish food and drink tea with milk when I’m with Brian’s Irish family and they always forget that I’m Irish…and they say things like, “Are you sure you’re Polish and not Irish?” And then I tell them that I’m Polish AND Irish. And I love breakfast. And breakfast sausage. And tea kind of grew on me (though I still love me some coffee Monday-Friday and sometimes Saturday when I’m home with my Keurig and not at Brian’s mom’s house.)

Anyways…sorry for the LONG distracted ramble. (Not really.)

Pet Dolphins on Vacation in Florida

So, right after Christmas, Brian was talking to his dad about how he has several vacation days that he needs to use by February…And his dad was all, “You should come visit!” (Brian has made his way down to Florida during many a January/February to visit his dad & get some Vitamin D/warm weather…so this wasn’t a total out of the blue idea.)

Brian made the mistake of mentioning this to me…And I got so excited. I have a love affair with Florida that cannot be matched. (Obviously, we’re going. I mean…you get an idea into my head…and it sort of happens.) This will be my 8th trip to The Sunshine State. The 3rd in a 12 month period. Speaking of Florida, check out the article that Brian sent me about Disney World.

So Brian sent me this awesome picture of dolphins in Google Maps from Marco Island (where we’ll be going). My pet dolphins miss me. They want to play in the canals with us again! I just know it.

Our Pets: Baby Sloth and Baby Platypus

If you didn’t read my sonnet to Yelp, go do that now. I can wait…

OK, now, if you don’t know about our future pet sloth…you’ve got a lot of reading to catch up on.

Now that you’re on the same page as me… here are our future baby pets. Aren’t the sweet?

baby platypus baby sloth

Random Internet Pictures and Obligatory Kitten gif

kitten attack gif dog playing fetch with a statue baby turtle on big turtle

The Castle: Our Future Home

beautiful castle

Have a great weekend!

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Sunday Morning News: Monkeys in Coats

Monkeys in Little Monkey Jackets

Oh yes, Blog Lovers, you heard me. There was a monkey running around in Toronto…with a cute little monkey coat on! It was seriously the greatest news article I’ve read in a while. Brian actually shared it with me, but I wanted to save it for news day! Go read the article about the runaway monkey, then come back. I’ll wait. (Man, I wait on you guys to catch up a lot.)

Monkey in a Jacket outside IKEA

Several things. 1. As soon as I saw this, I tweeted it to my blog pal That Ash Girl. We have a shared love of adorable animals. 2. The monkey was in front of an IKEA. For those of you who don’t know, I despise IKEA for it’s cheap unattractive appeal. I’m a furniture snob. I get it. But I mean…you should see our couch. It’s friggin’ awesome. Brian always tells me how lucky he is…to have a couch as nice as ours.  3. The monkey was likely running away from IKEA, because like his fashion sense (the coat looked SO cute on him) his furniture sense of style is rock solid. Run Little Monkey! Be Free!

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

A Series of Unfortunate Events…Err…Just One, But It’s a Doozy

For those of you who don’t know, I spent a beautiful week in the happiest place on Earth. Walt Disney and I go way back (My first Disney magic, my love of Mousercise, and a grown-up trip to Disney World). Of course, I have a ridiculously long list of Disney memories; those are just a few of them. Tomorrow, I’ll tell you a little bit about our fantastic and magical trip to Disney, but today…Today I’d like to tell you about our pre-Disney “misfortune.”

Our plan was to leave last Wednesday afternoon for Florida. We were ridic busy up until our departure (Brian was working LATE nights to make up for his upcoming absence from the tech-y world, I’ve been trying to find us a place to live, prepare for my new job–that I’m starting TODAY, and a million other little details.) So I told him that he needed to get together what he wanted to bring, and I would pack it.

My OCD tendencies are pretty heavy in the packing department. I hate when the luggage is top heavy and falls down. I roll everything meticulously. I also feel the need to write everything that I pack on a list (this is different than my packing checklist), so that I know what is where and more importantly what would/could be missing upon our arrival.

So on Sunday night around midnight, after a very long day, Brian got all of his clothes together for me. Monday came, and my plan was to pack everything as Tuesday was going to be a circus day of running around. So, one of my besties, Lily, stopped over to help (OK, she stopped over to go shopping with me but whatever. That’s what friends are for).

So upon our return from a shopping extravaganza, Lily watched me pack. Well, she watched about 2 hours of it before she left for her man of the moment. 2 hours later, I figured it was time for a break. Yes, I take a long time to properly pack things in just the right places. Don’t hate. I got up to work on a blog post and perhaps enjoy a quick meal. I had previously texted Brian “Don’t forget to eat!” but I was on the verge of forgetting to eat.

15 minutes into a blog post, I heard my roommate yell, “Dexter! No! No, no, no, nonononono.”

At this point, I knew something bad had happened, as I heard Anna shooing the pup back outside. “I think D got sprayed by a skunk.” My brain processes much faster than anything else…my thought process was something as follows:

Oh God. Oh God. What should I do? Remember the last time this happened? You smelled like skunk for a week. Your car smelled like skunk. Your clothes. Everything. Disney. The luggage! Oh God. Oh God. What do I do? Ummm…Do I leave? Do I stay? Oh God. Oh God. I can’t stay. Our clothes! Everything is going to smell like skunk. I need to go. Shit! Shit! Shit!

So I did what any girl would do…I circled the house, offered what assistance I could, and panicked. Then…I mopped the floor. I’m not entirely sure what I thought this might accomplish, but it helped my piece of mind. The stench was so unbelievably overpowering, I cannot begin to describe it to you. But I’ll try.

If you’ve ever smelled fresh garlic, or better yet, chopped fresh garlic, you’ll be able to get an idea. Imagine the smell of fresh cut garlic on your fingers: a strong, potent, stinging smell. Now imagine that you are walking through a HUGE heavy cloud of that smell. Then, multiply it by 5. That’s what we were dealing with here.

After the attempted floor wash, I decided I needed to get the hell out of dodge…I likely had some laundry to do. Let’s not even talk about how I had just completed 5 loads of laundry so we didn’t come home to a full hamper. So after ensuring that Anna and her incredibly helpful mom, who knew skunk de-smelling tricks, were okay, I threw my shit in the bags and loaded up the car.

I’m not going to lie, I felt like the world’s biggest asshole, leaving Anna and Little D all by themselves to handle the stench. Brian was meeting me at the train by my parents’ house, so I went and picked him up. He got in the car and could smell the skunk. I knew I had carried it with me. So, we got to my parents’ and my mom smelled it immediately. I really thought she was going to kill me. She was surprisingly wonderful about the whole thing–this might be because we left everything outside overnight and by morning the stench had dissipated from the air. Of course, our clothes and luggage were still pretty stinky.

After washing 2 suitcases full of clothes about 7 times, two bottles of Febreeze, a container of Clorax wipes, and a box of dryer sheets, our clothes almost smelled normal, if not a little over fragrant. The luggage still had hints of skunk, so I packed our clothes inside of garbage bags and filled it with dryer sheets.

I was basically running on a total of 9 hours of sleep between 2 days because of the laundry and the folding and the rolling and the obsessive packing…

As we were packing the bags up, I commented that they still smelled a little skunky and my dad looked at me, point blank and said: They’re going to think all that skunk is actually weed. They’re going to confiscate your luggage.

We were able to leave for and make it to the airport on time, and my pink princess luggage was still usable:

The traveling pink princess

As we were getting off the plane, and I saw out the window that my suitcase, which I had just purchased for this trip, was sitting out in the Orlando rain…all. by. itself. I freaked out a little bit….questioned the flight attendants, questioned the guy outside the plane…Apparently when you send your luggage through Disney’s Magical Express, they let it sit there until someone comes by to pick it up. Never. Again. I’m too OCD to let my luggage go without me. I learned my lesson.

Yep, that’s my bag, right there…Somewhere along the line, they also lost my sweet Yelp luggage tag 🙁

 

It started raining just after this picture was taken.

Sure enough, once I started unpacking the suitcase, I discovered that the assmonkeys at TSA searched through my bag (Come on, skunk smell, dryer sheets, and a garbage bag screams “our dog got skunked, give us a break!” right?) Guess what? All that hard work I spent packing? Down the toilet before it even hit the plane… My suitcase was a mess.

Have you ever had a problem RIGHT before leaving on a trip? What is your packing routine (if any)? Have you have been skunked?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Gratuitous Cat Pictures

As promised in last week’s blog post: gratuitous cat pictures for your amusement.

Your welcome.

We’re really mean to our animals, aren’t we?

 

Sheba Ball

 

I’m cooler than you.

 

I’m going to cheer camp, whether you like it or not.

I want to be outside. Please make this happen.

“I’m a Beanie Baby. Really.”

Sleeping in my packed college laundry basket

 

On the chaise lounge beside the laundry

 

Cat in a box (Sheba obviously wanted to come to college with me)

 

Buck and Sheba:
“What’s up, Dog?”
“Nothing, Cat.”
“Carry on.”

 

 

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Sheba the Cat

When I was 14, our family cat, Chester, passed out of this world. My mother was devastated. She had raised him from a kitten, long before I was a sparkle in her eye. She swore she would never have another cat.

Around the same time, our neighbors across the street had a little accident involving a lit candle that fell over, resulting in a bout of homelessness. Mom had always helped this family out when she could, and this being a desperate time of need, she offered them everything she could.

They were a very large family with very little money, so Mom helped them find a place to live, brought them food from Aldi, donated all of our old clothes/shoes/toys/etc to the family, and made sure that the kids had Christmas presents and school supplies (every year for a good 5 years). My mom has a really huge heart, and she wanted to help them in every way she could.

The family had two cats, Sheba and a little black cat, whose name I don’t recall. They were both mostly outdoor cats, who roamed the neighborhood. Both were lady cats that often would drop dead carcasses at the feet of our former male cat. While the family could hardly afford to feed themselves, they certainly couldn’t afford to feed two cats. They became the neighborhood cats.

Sheba was a pretty, but mean, black and white cat who roamed the neighborhood in a sulking manner. Many of the neighbors, my family included, understood her situation and left cat food out for her to munch on (in addition to the various creatures she would hunt).

Sheba, chillin’ in our backyard

I was a sophomore in high school, and was constantly coming and going from my house. Sheba was often standing outside our front door meowing for food. I had taken a liking to this feisty cat, and decided that I would try to pet her. Of course, this did not work out as planned. She hissed and ran away. Many. Many. Times.

After a few months, Sheba warmed up to me a little bit. She would come close enough to let me pet her, and even purred a little bit. I tried picking her up a few times, before she finally let me. Her fur was soft and silky. I wanted her to love me forever. During this time that Sheba and I became pals, she did not befriend anyone else. She would walk or even run away when anyone else was near. She was my stray.

When the Chicago weather started doing what Chicago weather does best (changing), my mom would leave the garage open a few inches, so that Sheba could hide in the semi-warmth of the garage. It, at the very least, would keep her out of the wind and snow.

One especially cold morning, I was snuggled up in my bedroom, and my mom came to wake me up. She opened the door and was shocked to see a ball of black and white fur atop my comforter, curled up in between my knees. Surprisingly, she wasn’t too mad. She told me that Sheba had to go…but after a few more smuggles, Sheba became a fixture in our house.

She wasn’t my cat; I was her human. She would sleep cozy in my bed, enjoying the warmth of snuggling with her human. She still only had eyes for me, and I loved her. Sometimes, she would wake me up by nuzzling against my face, other times, by walking across my stomach. When she was feeling playful, she would attack my moving feet in my sleep, clawing through the blankies.

Making herself at home

When I left for college a few short years later, she was heartbroken. She peed all over my bedroom closet, ruining several of my formal gowns from high school. Including this beauty:

My Barbie pink turnabout dress. I really wish Sheba hadn’t destroyed this one…

So with her human gone, Sheba sold her soul to everyone else in the house, vying for love, affection, and attention. Gone were the days when she would have nothing to do with any human. She was an attention-whore who wanted everyone to pet her, snuggle her, and feed her. She went from having one human to having dozens. Not bad for a homeless and abandoned cat.

Look for gratuitous cat photos next week. 🙂

 

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The Bad Dog

After losing all of our animals in a freak winter of animal deaths, we knew that it was time to get a new dog. Our plan was to get a new German Shepherd (a German Shepherd/Husky mutt to be exact) on our return from Spring Break at Disney.

While we vacationed in Florida, we spent many of our afternoons trying to come up with a good name for our future dog. After testing out several potential names, I suggested Buck (as my father lovingly referred to my mother, brother, and I as Peg, Bud, and Kelly respectively). Everyone liked it. Buck Bundy sounded like the perfect full name for our new dog.

A week later we went to pick up our new pup.

Buck was unbelievably adorable, a sassy little puppy with pointy ears and enough energy to power a car. We loved him instantly.

During the first storm, we realized that Buck was going to have issues, when he freaked out. Cowering under things, curling up behind furniture, and making huge messes wherever he was hiding were just the start.

Later that summer, we found out that Buck, like Bismark, was definitely a running dog. He would jet out of the house and race for this hills. Or at least race away. Unlike Bismark, he didn’t know where home was or that he should make his way home. Terrified he would get hit by a car, we chased after him time and time again. For hours, we would run after him through our small neighborhood–sometimes making it to Route 53 (a busier road). He did eventually get hit by a car, though it was not a fast moving car, and he made it out of there without a scratch.

In the spring of my sophomore year of high school, two of my girlfriends and I were working on a huge class project. We were going to be shooting a video at Flaherty’s for our English class, and my whole family was at the bar getting the back room set up.

While the plan was to meet at Flaherty’s, miscommunication led Ellie and Elizabeth to make their way over to my house. As was the standard for the open house that was my home, they walked right in. And Buck ran right out. Of course, these were the days before cell phones populated the world, and it wasn’t super easy to get in touch me. The girls didn’t know the phone number to Flaherty’s, and I didn’t know they were at my house.

They chased Buck around for at least a half hour, maybe forty-five minutes. My mom ran home to check on something, and discovered the girls panicking thanks to our idiot dog. Luckily, Mom was able to get Buck back into the house, and the girls were able to get to the bar in time to shoot our video.

Buck Bundy the Dog

The first of many Buck stories, this was far from the worst. Our little devil dog, however much we loved him, would spend the next 14 years wreaking havoc in our world.

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The Good Dog(s)

We got Bismark when I was 5 (Our first German Shepherd, Joey, died on my fifth birthday) and we had him until I was a sophomore in high school. I loved him so much. He could always manage to make me smile, even when I was crying. I would be sitting on our front landing, and Biz would come over and lay his head in my lap when I was sad. He was a good dog. An ornament that bears his name still hangs on my parents Christmas tree in his honor.

When I was a little girl, I loved playing games, and I wanted to play them all the time. Sorry, Monopoly, Chutes and Ladders, Boggle, and more, but my favorite game was Life. Constantly, I would ask my big sister, my mom, and my dad to play any one of these games with me, but mostly it was The Game of Life. No one ever wanted to play with me. So, more often than not, I found myself playing Life with my dog.

Bismark (our second German Shepherd mutt) was the best dog ever; he would snuggle with me for hours and he would play Life with me whenever I wanted to play. Of course, I had to do all of the work, but he would sit there patiently holding the spot of the blue car player. Life was one of those games that I couldn’t actually cheat in my favor, but I’m pretty confident that I won every game. (Side note: Now I try to play Life with my godson Little A whenever he asks me. I remember what it’s like.)

Bizzy could be a pain too. If you accidentally said anything that sounded like the word “pew,” Biz would go running out of the room. Somehow he knew that it meant something smelled, and he always thought it was him. A fun party trick at times, it got old pretty fast. A little bit of a runner, Bismark was also always escaping. He would find his way out of the backyard, and we’d hear him barking around the block or down the street. We never had to worry too much because he always came home. Often, we’d find him standing outside the front door or at the backyard gate (on the outside!)

Chester, our old gray house cat, was indifferent to Bismark. Chester loved Joey too much, and Bismark was just another dog. Chester and Joey used to sleep snuggled together like brothers. They even cleaned each other.

Bismark the German shepherd dog with Rex the dalmatian puppy trailing behind him

When we were in grade school/middle school, my brother got Rex, the trouble-making Dalmatian puppy. He brought out the puppy in Biz and made him seem years younger. The two would scamper around the backyard together, with Old Biz humoring the nipping, jumping, racing pup. When Biz would escape, Rex was right along with him, and good ole Bismark taught him to always come home. The sight of the two of them standing outside the back gate was infuriating, hilarious, and adorable all at once.

Chester, of course, hated Rex.

In the summer of 1996, a growth started forming on Rex’s stomach. As it grew bigger and bigger, we became more concerned. We took him to our then-regular vet in Lombard, and they told us that Rex was fine, it was a benign fatty tumor. They gave us some cream to put on it and told us he was fine. A year later, Rex’s health started dwindling, and we brought him back to the vet. The tumor was, as it turned out, cancerous. My parents put Rex down in November of 1997. The following January, Chester’s and Bizmark’s health were also failing (an old cat and dog, respectively), and we were saddened to imagine a near future without any of our family pets. Chester, who loved the Christmas tree over all other places in our home, curled up under the tree one night after mom went to bed, and never came out.

German Shepherds are known for their hip problems later in life. This was definitely the case for my board-game-playing dog. In February, after months of dragging his legs behind him, and loss of his bowels, my parents took Bismark to the vet for the last time. I was at a sleepover and never got to say goodbye. I didn’t even know that it was happening. As my distraught dad pulled the motorhome (his daily driver) out of the vet parking lot, he accidentally knocked over the vet’s sign in the front of the property. The vet was PISSED, but after my mother -sassy pants that she is- kindly reminded him that he basically killed our 5-year-old Dalmatian, the vet told them not to worry about it.

We never went back to that vet, again.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!