Monday, October 26, 2009

Turn up the Enya and hide the razor blades

Why is that everyone born after July 28, 1983 (that being a monumental day in history as the world welcomed the enigma whom you have grown to know and!) insists that I cherish my 20's, as they are the best of days that I will look upon fondly as I grow older (and no doubt) less charming. I almost feel guilty for resenting this period of my life. A period that has brought a lot of discouragement and confusion. Sometimes I wish I could fastforward a decade or two and figure out what I am suppose to be doing because for the life of me, I don't have a clue at the moment. Most people think fondly of their 20's when the monotony of daily life becomes irksome. Some miss the anticipation of what drunken debauchery the weekend may bring. Some miss not having a spouse, children, in-laws, or boss to answer to. Some may miss the thrill of what's to come. Youthful optimism of what path your life may take, unencumbered by the fear of failure, driven by puerile certainty that you will succeed. To those whom affectionately reminisce upon their 20's, wishing for a moment they could recapture that bold excitement, allow me remind you of what your 20's were really about. A period when your life comes to numerous crossroads and your crutch (college, friends, financial support from mom and dad) no longer cradles your juvenile impulses. Decisions need to be made and responsibility beckons you from every corner no matter how hard you resist.

Throughout high school and college, everything lacks urgency. There's always more time to make important decisions. I'll figure out my passion later. I won't worry about my debt(s) until I'm done with school. Of course my friends will always be around to entertain me. Mom and dad will keep paying my health insurance and giving me beer money. Then one day you wake up and realize that you can no longer rely on your friends to split the rent 5 ways, eat from the cafeteria on your meal plan or expect mom to keep doing your laundry. The 4 years you spent partying studying landed you with a piece of paper that proclaims your expertise in some chosen field. For me, I apparently am an economics guru. I remember walking across the stage on graduation day, reaching out my hand for the coveted slip manifesting my genius, and feeling like a complete fraud. What did I know about economics? Sure I sat through a few classes, passed a few exams and read a few books, but to think I was at all prepared to take on a job requiring these skills was absurd. I only chose econ in the first place because it sounded smart and was about the only subject that didn't bore me to death. Not exactly what fuels ones future passion when entering the workforce.

At this point, most 20-something year olds get a job that either pays the bills or has potential of becoming their desired career. No one lands their dream job right out of the gate. Now you may wake up at 40 and realize you're still in your post-college entry level position but you didn't consciously decide that was going to be it. Somewhere along the way you may have missed an opportunity, life may have thrown you a few curve balls and you may feel like a failure, but you made your bed so deal with it. Throughout college (the ambitious types) dream of what exciting and profound career they may one day profess on their business card. Supreme Court Justice? Can't wait! Nation's leading heart surgeon? Where do I sign! Titan of industry? Yes please! Of course, no one actually achieves these coveted positions at 21, but isn't it fun to think of all that potential your professors and parents have been feeding your ego all these years? No one tells you how morally crushing it is to be rejected by a small firm that has typos in its ads and polyester clad HR drones. No one clarifies that your "earning potential" is just that, potential. You may have the fortune of making that bank decades down the line but don't think you're getting that great health plan and bonus package with zero experience. No one rewards you for your efforts with concrete affirmation of grades, diplomas or smiley face stickers. Sure a paycheck may be considered a reward for your attempts at being productive, but when you see the paltry amount that barely covers the gas it takes to get to work, it feels more like a cruel joke.

So while you're feeling particularly nostalgic about your 20's, remember how disappointing, stressful and degrading it was to realize you're not as "special" as your parents and professors built you up to be. Think back on that first despondent memory of rejection. Whether it's an internal defense mechanism (I haven't run the diagnostics on this theory yet and I only minored in psychology) or the capacity to remember stressful times dissipates with the aging brain, people tend to remember only the carefree carousing of their 20's. Somehow they seem to have forgotten that epiphany whereby one realizes they're most likely NOT going to reach that elusive "potential." Coming from the generation of entitlement, this is a particularly difficult reality to grasp because most of us are not equipped with the necessary skills to cope with our own shortcomings.

In your 20's it's hard to imagine the people you once played beer pong with while taking breaks to do keg stands will one day run off and get married and produce offspring. That girl who spent every Friday night clutching the toilet, mascara running down her face, drunkenly sobbing over another rejection will actually dupe find some dude to marry her. When you hit your mid-20's most of these friends will inevitably be engaged or married, while you sit and blog, waiting for your chance. Friendships change as lifestyles change. If you're single, your newly married cohorts tend to associate with other newlyweds and begin looking at you with pity or disdain. It's even worse if said cohorts begin procreating. What could you possibly have in common then? My single species is dwindling. Every week it seems as if another friend gets engaged or finds a little demon seed in her belly. I can no longer muster my false enthusiasm for such news. I'm actually beginning to resent most of these people. Not necessarily because I'm bitter or jealous, but because I truly enjoy scrutinizing other's relationships and finding the flaws for them. You're welcome. Not callous enough to point them out, I silently reassure myself that by the time they realize the hasty decisions they've made and plan their matrimonial escape, I'll be well on my way to wedded bliss. Ha!

However, those of you who've made it through your 20's with a little grace and sanity, and do find yourselves married (happily or not) be thankful you fit the norm. It's not so great on the other side. When your love life is floundering, it's difficult to be constantly surrounded by a bunch of newlyweds. They're like a plague of locusts sweeping over your self-confidence, leaving very little behind. Making more of a spectacle attempting NOT to speak about their upcoming nuptials around those who have none to speak of. Especially around the girl who called off her own wedding. I'm either the basketcase who couldn't make it down the aisle, or the spoiled brat who didn't see the value of making it down the aisle. So, be thankful if you're in this elite group of couples and stop bitching about missing the good ol' bachelor days. Sure it's fun to have the freedom to look, but not so fun if no one is looking back.

Still miss your 20's? Miss all the insecurity and doubts? Miss feeling like the outcast or that you're falling behind? Miss the eagerness of what may lie ahead only to discover it's pretty bleak? The only period of my life I've look fondly upon, were the days I was free to poop my pants. I guess by that token, I'm really looking forward to my 90's.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Van Buren Commie Lofts

I almost lost it 2 days ago. And by "lost it", I mean lost my dog after hurling him off the balcony. Not literally, but tip-toeing the line of very literally. Between the barking, biting, peeing and circling my legs all day, I checked my condo rules to see if it would be "unsightly" to have a dead dog on the neighbor's balcony below. Speaking of condo rules, I recently found the new 14 page packet outside my door. As my heart started racing and little beads of sweat began to inhabit my brow, I knew it. They found out about the 3rd dog and now I will be driven from VBCL by an angry pitchfork and torch bearing upscale elderly lot. After briefly running through my various escape plans (one of which includes the great Mylar balloon diversion/hide in the attic plan but first I must find an attic) I realized all the neighbors had new rules outside their door. *Phew* I'll admit I still tentatively flipped through the pages, anticipating a few highlighted sections or specific "Unit Owners Named Rachel Rules" but found none. After going through all 14 pages of restrictions I couldn't help but wonder why the hell I was paying so much to live at a place that is beginning to feel like a Soviet Gulag. Okay, that might be a little overly dramatic but I'm not what you'd call a fan of rules, regulations, restrictions or any other "R" word that limits my impulses or causes heart palpitations.

The rules that really irritate me are all the "unsightly" elements that one is to avoid. An entire page is devoted to balconies. Although the rules are prefaced by "The balconies, while for the exclusive use of the unit to which they are attached," [alright, I paid for and own the balcony so...] "impact the appearance of our building and can pose certain safety concerns." Final summation - Your $9000 taxes, mortgage payments and condo fees do NOT omit the fact that you live in a condo and not a house, and therefore must succumb to the whim of the almighty board as if you still live under your parents roof. Some of the balcony rules that I found to be particularly Commie in nature include the following:

  1. Children are not permitted on balconies except under the supervision of an adult. (Although the average age of residents at VBCL is 76, I don't really foresee grandchildren hurling themselves off our tiny balconies being a serious concern.)

  2. No unsightly tables, chairs, grills or other items will be permitted. (I've looked at my neighbor's balconies and have to seriously question who determines what is unsightly because I'm seeing a lot of random foliage and faux Roman statues. Also, could this pertain to people? I find my freaky neighbor below, to be quite unsightly.)

  3. Balconies may not be used for shaking rugs. (Why? Not that I shake my rugs anyway, but if I did I can't imagine that so much debris would be strewn about as to become a hazard or blemish on the facade of the building. A little dust and bits of kibble should eventually blow away, am I right?)

  4. Residents may not drop items or pour liquids off the balconies. (Okay, this makes sense but it's the equivalent of saying "Don't make toast in the tub.")

  5. No signs or banners shall be displayed. (Commie bastards.)

  6. Residents may place a reasonable amount of flowers or other plantings on their balconies. (WTF? What is considered a reasonable amount? Is there a formula to this? A ratio of petunias to marigolds that must be followed? How many marijuana plants am I allowed? Again, I want to know who is setting these standards as it looks like the freakin' Milwaukee Domes on most balconies.)

  7. Balconies may not be used for drying laundry. (Way to go Green guys! Personally I think this is a dig at Chinatown's all over the world. Who doesn't want to see what clothes I spilled wine on the night before?)

As I've mentioned, there is also a 2 dog per household limit. Why only 2 dogs when the city of Milwaukee allows 3? Couldn't tell you, other than I suspect there's been some sort of elderly dog fighting issues in the past. The new rules also include the ramifications of any sort of deviant and felonious behavior. These include - a written reprimand (which I've already received a number of times for various infractions), a fine not to exceed $250, plus admin costs of $20, plus $15 per day the malevolent conduct persists. By my calculations I owe the board roughly $800 for the Judge already. Oh, and loss of use of the Association's recreational facilities. That being a pool table in the lobby. Drat!

So you see, I'm not cut out for this type of bastille living. I'm a real maverick who's not afraid to live outside the law. I've got to find a new place of residence that doesn't restrict my renegade lifestyle. Some place where I can flaunt my unsightly patio furniture, throw decorative objects and various paraphernalia outside my windows on a whim, stomp and shout down the hallways, let my canines run rampant and children hurl themselves off the balcony if they so choose.

Sure I like living downtown for the nightlife and convenience, but Judge has made those shining qualities a thing of the past. I think my overwhelming desire to never interact in a neighborly fashion with anyone inhabiting my zip code eclipses my love of 18' ceilings and Cream City brick walls. I just need to get out of here before the KGB discovers all my dastardly deeds and eats away my handbag and shoe fund savings.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Shark vs. Jets

You know how people say that after you have a baby it's hard to think of a time before you had baby? I finally get it! I'm having a difficult time remembering what it was like to sleep for more than 3 consecutive hours, have all the skin on my hands intact, walk through my condo without tripping over toys and smashing kibble. I think I used to wear clothes other than sweats and shower on a daily basis. I vaguely recall a time when my vocabulary consisted of words and phrases other than - NO, don't bite, don't bark, don't nurse off the other dogs wieners, and what the hell is wrong with you?! In fact, I believe my brain is actually starting to atrophy. Problem solving, grammar, and a general working knowledge of civil functioning is beginning to dissipate. I've already raised 2 puppies so I figured, how hard could a third be?! I've got this! Not the case. A Doberman puppy does not exhibit the same qualities of a teeny Italian Greyhound puppy. For example, Doberman puppies latch onto your flesh with the determination of well, a Doberman. This attack/guarding quality would be impressive and noble if I could harness this madness and redirect it at burglars, felons or bad dates. In fact, my little guy already has the strength and stamina to drag a suitcase around my condo. Doberman puppies are not timid at all. At least not mine (the vet actually said he was very "self-confident" which I believe is code for "good luck, this dog will annihilate you"). Nothing scares him and he has yet to back down from any apparent challenge, including my authority. Most people bring their undisciplined, under exercised, unsocialized dogs to the dog park. This results in a bunch of crazy ass dogs running wild with little to no respect for space, puppies, small dogs, or nice apparel.

[Sidenote to any reader who has a dog such as this: DO NOT bring your dog to the dog park if you haven't walked it already, taught it basic commands or socialized it with a variety of people and other dogs! It's not fair to the rest of us to have your stupid dog get poopy paw prints on our clothes, bang into us, harass or teach our dogs bad habits. Some disgusting, grunty little gremlin looking dog was humping the daylights out of my puppy and within about 10 minutes my pup embarked on his humping spree. Not cool.]

Anyway, for some reason I've noticed a lot of people own boxers, huskies and a variety of hunting/working dogs downtown. For those of you who know anything about dog breeds, these are generally not the best condo or city dogs as they require a lot of exercise. Letting your dog frolic in the park for 20 minutes ain't gonna cut it. These are the dogs that knock you and your dogs over with no inhibition. My pup unfortunately bears the brunt of a lot of crazy dog energy as they plow into or paw at him. They're too rough and I get irritated when the owners of said crazy dog don't reprimand or at least call Cujo back to them. Take the time to socialize your dog with puppies you irresponsible idiots! Then I get to "protect" my future guard dog. Last week a boxer kept running over him and pawing at him too roughly. At the time my little guy had the coordination of a severe alcoholic after a 2 week bender. He'd flop over, cry a bit then march right back up to the boxer and stare him down. Of course he'd get pounded on again, but he kept getting up and facing his assailant. I'll admit I was proud. He's either extremely brave or extremely stupid. The jury is still out. In a few months, I look forward to having them "play" together and I will take a cue from the boxer's owner and not reprimand or control my dog either. Hehe.

The first week or so the Judge (oh, that's his name by the way) slept like an angel and I was patting myself on the back for having found the perfect dog. Within a couple days sleeping through the night transformed into brief naps throughout the day and a hearty appetite for flesh. Seeing as he's so young, reprimands and misdirection register about a zero in his brain. I now know why God makes puppies so adorable (to look at). It's so you don't throw them against a wall, which I will admit I've seriously considered. Having this puppy makes me realize what an unfit mother I'd truly be. I have absolutely no patience for shenanigans or tomfoolery. I also try to reason with the unreasonable which then turns into swearing at the unreasonable. Thank goodness dogs never learn to speak or Judge would sound like a Tourettes sufferer. Since he's a Doberman everyone's warning me that I 'must be firm.' I need to remind myself that I 'must not drown him.' It's not difficult to be firm with a dog who bites your face as soon as you shut your eyes or takes a steamy poo in your hand. I wish I could fast forward about 3 months when his brain starts to develop past fetus status. I'm happy I got to see him all cute and tiny, but I'm over it now. Scary thing is, he gains about 3lbs a week and I'm almost certain none of it can be attributed to brain mass.

Another neat discovery - my dogs hate him. Maverick wouldn't look at him for the first few days and Rebel snaps every time Judge touches him. I'm hoping the Italian Greyhounds work on their attitudes because Judge is going to decimate them in a couple weeks. In my head this little scenario played out differently. My beautiful IGs frolicking about with their spunky new little brother. Taking naps by the fireplace, forging an unbreakable bond. *bloop! imaginary bubble bursts. It's like the Shark (Judge) vs. the Jets (Mav and Rebel), but without the neat choreography and snapping.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Animal Kingdom BEWARE - DTabs Dominion of Death

Sorry I've been MIA lately, it's just that I've been trying to keep a secret for the past week and I didn't trust myself not to blab it all over the Internet. I did however blab it to numerous family members and friends. I guess my future in safeguarding national security secrets is out the window. I seriously talk a lot, no water boarding necessary. The secret that I've (sort of) kept the past week was that I've added a new addition to my family and brought my title as crazy dog lady one step closer to fruition. I got another puppy! Yes, that now brings me to 3 dogs. However, my other 2 are equivalent to one medium size dog and display the characteristics of a fat old house cat so I'm considering this little guy my first "dog." So, why the secrecy? DTabs is not a fan of canines (or any living creature for that matter). Sure she tolerates my pups in small doses, but I'd never trust her alone with them. For example...In college I had a bunch of pet mice. Sort of gross but I've always liked having some little creature dependent on me, sort of a god complex. Well DTabs was to watch them (literally, just watch them and drop some water in their cage) over the weekend. Seems simple, right? When I returned home I couldn't find my beloved disease-ridden rodents.

"DTabs, where are my darling pets?"

"Oh, I burned them."

"You what?!"

"They started losing their fur and looked nasty so I burned them in their cage."

[wondering if my mother isn't in fact beginning to show the tell-tale signs of a serial killer]

"Um...okay, thanks for incinerating watching my pets. I've got to go back to campus and pray for your soul."

Example number 2:

DTabs was having a leisurely afternoon of gardening when she thought she spied a mole corrupting her lovely flower beds. So what does DTabs do? Grabs a golf club and smashes the thing to death, of course! Oh wait, she doesn't stop there. After desecrating the first little "mole" she spots a few more offenders and proceeds to go on a Tiger Woods inspired killing rampage. When the dusts settles and her blood shot, crazed eyes regain focus DTabs realizes that the carnage was not in fact aimed at the dastardly mole species. Rather, she MURDERED A NEST FILLED WITH BUNNIES. Yes, little hippity-hoppy sweet fuzzy bunnies. All of them. Not one sole survivor to warn the rest of the animal kingdom to steer clear of DTabs dominion of destruction.

So you see, DTabs is not a lover of animals nor does she see any of the finer points of pet ownership. Meh.