Don’t Wanna, Can’t Make Me, and Sweet Dreams are Made of These

moretheyexpectSo, for a brief sanity break, leave those who were raised by wolves to figure things out for themselves from time to time.

The zoo calls that “enrichment” time for the animals.  Let the bears dig their dinner out of a bucket instead of just putting it in front of them. It makes their lives more fun. Or at least, it makes it more fun for the humans to watch.

I strive to have high standards for myself, but I don’t really expect much from rest of the world.  I know that might sound arrogant, but should I expect anything from anyone, even if I spell it out clearly, odds are that they will disappoint.  The old axiom, “if you want it done right, do it yourself,” certainly does apply in my life, although I should re-word it a bit for the 21st century.

“If I want it done at all, I better do it.”

If I keep my standards low, then when someone actually does perform adequately or appropriately, I am pleasantly surprised.  It’s sort of a twisted way of looking at the glass as being half full.

Of course there are some things I could give a rat’s ass less whether they’re done or not, because they just don’t make an appearance on my priority list.

assmaster

I’m not a sports fan.  I struggle to commit to regular workouts for my health’s sake.  I’m still trying to learn to enjoy exercise.  I appreciate being able to go to the Y and use the machines and the pool there, but the only person I compete against as far as fitness or athletic (in)ability is myself.

I will make time to work out, but I still don’t care to watch sports.  Especially next month when they will be clogging up TruTV with that March Madness basketball mess.  I know some people want to watch basketball, but why on the same channel that “World’s Dumbest” is on?  Why not cut a few of the late night pecker pump infomercials and have basketball on then?

I can’t say I am a huge fan of constantly dusting things either.  I don’t dust as often as I should, but dusting is one of those exercises in futility that I positively loathe.  Jerry is a constant smoker, which creates even more dust than what would be in a normal house.  That nasty nicotine encrusted film covers everything in the house.  If I get to it, I get to it, but it’s not one of my really compelling priorities.  I can dust the whole frigging house from top to bottom and the filmy sludge will return in less than a day.  To me that seems like an insane waste of time, which reminds me of poor Sisyphus.  We the unwilling, doing the impossible for the ungrateful.  Sometimes I think I have more in common with Sisyphus than I’d like to acknowledge.

unwilling

I know I torqued Jerry off last night by not fixing him dinner, however, he has spent the last few days being particularly obnoxious.  Last night I did make a special trip to get him chocolate milk.  That favor was greeted with a tirade about how he had to get up and lock the door.  I was gone for five minutes, in broad daylight, and the door leading into the kitchen was locked.  The outside door was unlocked because it’s a little easier to only have to dig for one key- once you’re already in the foyer- when it’s cold and your hands are full.  But since His Nibs doesn’t do anything that might involve carrying in groceries or anything like that, he wouldn’t know.

It’s my own fault for being too nice.

Paradise_Garden_Wallpaper_pkuk6Here’s a lovely little slice of paradise.  Or it would be, if there were a pool and a pool boy.

The bad thing about me and utopian scenes is that I’m always the one who cues in on the one nasty thing in the picture.  For me the idyllic scene above becomes:

Paradisecrapperfiretacos

This would be the kind of dream I have.  Everything is perfect for a minute, and then there’s flaming porto johns, Richard Simmons, and flatulence-provoking taco references.

Now here would be my definition of a nightmare:

detroit 3It would be my luck that when I die I’ll end up in Detroit.

Pragmatic and Loving It, More Things I Need to Do, and Aging (Crankily)

I don’t know why, but it seems I’ve been on the theme lately of history and real life (thanks, WildBill for pointing that out.)  I think most of us have a really good idea what our own personal utopia would and would not contain, (I know I would not pre-empt World’s Dumbest on TruTV in order to televise basketball games and the endless commentary on them, for starters)  but the practical application is that we have to live in the dystopia we find ourselves in. 

I wish I knew where to buy the Darth Vader condoms.  I would have an econo-box shipped to Steve-o, anonymously of course, as if he wouldn’t be able to figure out who was behind such a practical gift. 

I don’t condone pre-marital fornication, and in my ideal world Steve-o would save himself for marriage.  Reality is not my ideal world.  I try to maintain an open dialogue with my offspring, even when I don’t agree with him or condone what he does.  I have to love him regardless of what he does or how he screws up.  I would rather know the truth, and I would rather for him to feel safe to be honest with me. The worst thing I can do is to go into an apoplectic fit whenever he does something I don’t agree with so he feels motivated to hide things from me.  My mother still does that, (she is very Catholic, after all) and I’ve never felt comfortable sharing anything in regard to my love life with her for that reason- even back in the day when I did have juicy tidbits to share.  I still remember Mom’s epic tantrum when she found my evil sadistic sister’s birth control pills.  I was glad that firestorm was not pointed at me.  I knew to hide mine better than that- and to keep my escapades to myself.   Although I’m not a huge fan of situational ethics, I don’t want Steve-o fathering offspring he can’t afford to support.  If that means strongly recommending he use prophylactics when he fornicates, that’s what it means. Of course, if he were to slip up and surprise me with an unplanned grandchild, I would hope that he would trust me enough to know that I would help him do the right things to support that girl and that child in any way I could.

So far, so good.  I should go ahead and send out those condoms though, even though at the current moment he’s living in a sausage farm.  I should pay him that surprise visit to his apartment in Lima too, just to satisfy my own curiosity at how nasty any domicile with three young men living in it can be.  I’m visualizing something along the lines of the Delta House.  (Remember, from the movie Animal House?) I am sure Martha Stewart would not approve.

I know enough to understand that reality is dystopia.  If I had any say in how the world works, I would be six feet tall, 120# , look like Demi Moore, and Jerry would be transformed into a non-drinking, non-smoking doting husband with the body (and libido) of a scrumptious young boy toy.   Obviously, there are a lot of things in this world I have no control over.  How I deal with the fact that reality doesn’t always follow my rules is going to determine my effectiveness and my happiness in life.  I think Clint Eastwood said it in the movie Heartbreak Ridge: Improvise, adapt and overcome.

I improvise and adapt quite a LOT.  Overcoming, well, sometimes that’s a crap shoot.

Tonight I need to Nair my face and dye my hair again.  Tomorrow night it’s time to re-do the claws.  I have to do what I can with what I have, which is sort of a scary thought.  Reminds me of the days when I held that old Subaru together with duct tape, pop rivets and bumper stickers.

I still have some of the pink glitter polish.  That’s always fun.

The main reason why I even bother with acrylic nails (other than my natural nails are flimsy and don’t grow well) and funky nail polish is that longer nails sort of offset my big, meaty man-hands.  I’m proportioned like some sort of bizarre troll.  I’m all upper body and torso with really short arms and legs.  My feet are normal sized (7B, which these days is actually considered small) but my hands are behemoth, which makes no sense.  I usually can’t wear womens’ gloves, which is a source of frustration because I like nice leather driving gloves in the winter.  I found a pair that fit well a couple of years ago, and miraculously, I haven’t lost either one of that pair.  I will play hell replacing those, although I have to say I do like the Isotoner gloves Mom got me, even though they are not leather.  They do fit well. 

From the waist up (except for the shortness of my arms) I look like I should be 6′ tall.  From the waist down, I have very short legs.  God has a sense of humor.  All I have to do to see that is to look in the mirror- or try to find pants that are the correct length.  Petites are high-waters, and “Average” length pants scrape the ground.

Jerry had his happy fun bi-annual Dr. appointment today.  I wish I could have been a fly on the wall for that one.  He wanted me to make him a list of stuff to bring up to the Dr. so that he wouldn’t forget. I did, but it was a pretty tame list.   I should have sent my version of the list, but I would have to have written it in very small print and then hid his glasses.

Here’s my version of “Things to ask the Dr. Regarding Jerry’s Health”-

Which blood tests are you doing today and why? 

Please schedule a colonoscopy and prostate exam.  With Extreme Prejudice.

Is drinking a 12 pack of Natties 3-5 nights a week normal?

Does Jerry still have a liver? Or lungs?

Is there any medication that stops incessant bitching?  Dilaudid worked pretty good for this when he broke his ribs.  He slept good, and he was so quiet he didn’t bother me much at all.  That was Good Stuff.  I haven’t slept so good since.

Do you have any free samples of Viagra?  Can Jerry have a few of them?

I should have sent my list.  I did put “depression” on his list but I bet he won’t have the balls to be honest about it.  In all seriousness, Jerry is depressed, and he has been for so long he thinks being depressed is normal.  I used to think that too, but somehow I know better.  Again, it’s that difference between what my utopia would look like and the dystopia I live in.  Jerry hasn’t got the clue that he will never live in a perfect world and he is unwilling to adapt to the one he lives in.  Maybe Prozac would help.  I know it helps me. 

Then again, I have to admit I really enjoyed that week when he was on the Dilaudids.  It’s never been so quiet.

The Intellectual Superiority of Dogs, Ban Stupid People, and Other Utopian Impossibilities

I had to take a picture of this yesterday when I saw it, as it mirrors my sentiments regarding both the dispatch of the stupid and those misdirected souls who would ban certain dog breeds.

Banning dog breeds or labeling particular breeds as “vicious” because some humans misuse them follows the same flawed logic and makes as little sense as banning the responsible ownership of firearms because some people misuse firearms.  I am particularly sensitive to such nonsense because I own dogs that have the potential to inflict grave injury if they are mishandled.   ALL dogs have some potential to be dangerous to humans if mishandled, though usually the larger and more assertive the breed there is little margin for error in handling the dog, and the potential for the dog to inflict harm, is greater.

Much has been said in the popular media condemning the Pit Bull breed (which is in reality a robust variant of the American Staffordshire Terrier.)  Irresponsible humans have done unspeakable cruelty to Pit Bulls by conditioning them to fight and training them to intentionally attack other dogs.  When properly conditioned and socialized, pitties (or as some owners prefer to refer to them- AmStaffs-) are some of the sweetest, most gentle and lovable dogs on Earth.  The difference between the lovable pittie who plays with children and lounges in the TV room and the deadly fighter who tears and rips other dogs to death is the human factor: are the humans responsible for the dog caring for it, socializing it, and handling it correctly?

I remember well that other breeds have been demonized in the media as being inherently “vicious” also- Dobermans, GSDs, Rottweilers, Chows, and Akitas to name a few.  However, in the rush to condemn a particular breed for being inherently prone to aggressive acts, the human factor was ignored.  Certain breeds do possess personality traits that can lead to aggressive acts if the human handler does not know how to deal with those traits.  A good example is our GSD/Chow mix, Lilo.

Lilo is a very territorial dog (typical of both Chows and GSDs) and always stands ready to defend what she believes is hers.  This personality trait can lead to aggression- and someone getting his/her face ripped off- if Lilo is improperly handled.  We understand that Lilo must be carefully introduced to both new people and other dogs so she doesn’t see the “interloper” as a threat.  We reward her when she is polite to new people and other dogs so she will associate being sociable with getting an extra something.   Lilo is heavily food motivated, so we encourage new visitors to pay tribute to Miss Lilo with a piece of cheese or meat.

Clara (Belgian Malinois/GSD) is every bit as territorial as Lilo, (pity be on any fool who would turn up in our house without proper introductions) but Clara is not nearly as demanding or headstrong as Lilo can be.  Clara is easier for me to handle than Lilo because she has an endearing and typically Malinois trait- her primary motivator is affection rather than food.  She won’t turn down food, but she lives for positive reinforcement.  She is very much a pleaser, but with one condition.  She will do virtually anything if she knows that’s what I want her to do.  If I am handling her she can be the gentlest and most docile dog imaginable no matter where we are.  She was a most welcome and sweet visitor to the nursing home my Grandma was in.   However, I am sure that the kids who tried to climb the fence saw a very different Clara- one with hair raised and teeth bared, charging at them full bore and ready to take a healthy chunk or two out of some miscreant butts should they land on the wrong side of the fence.  I am thankful that they made a wise choice when they saw her coming at them- they dropped and ran before they got over the fence and into Clara range.

Sheena (Husky/GSD) is rather harmless to people and could care less who walks in the house as long as they pay attention to her- she is not territorial at all, but she can be dog aggressive if she thinks she is not getting as much food or attention as the other two dogs.   She is a special case because we have only had her for about eight weeks and that’s the only socialization she has ever had.  She has gotten puppy obedience down and can obey simple commands.  Sheena is extremely food motivated and we are still struggling with some of her bad habits such as trash-digging and food-stealing.  She has that bullheadedness that is peculiar to Huskies- she makes Lilo’s “Chowtude” seem mild in comparison, and she is by far the most difficult of the three dogs to handle, at least right now.  She has made a great deal of improvement but needs to make a great deal more.  Especially when she gets the bright idea that uncoordinated large dogs can table dance.

For most people, Clara would be the more difficult of the three to handle simply because she is extremely perceptive and sensitive.   I can handle her with ease because her goal in life is to please me.  As long as I have had her (hard to believe it’s almost been six years) we sort of read each other’s minds, and she usually knows what I want before I give the command.   Now I know why the police and military love the Malinois breed.  As far as Clara obeying anyone else…well that’s a crap shoot.  Jerry can handle her to a degree.   I have to be with her for veterinary treatments.  If I am with her she will comply with any necessary procedure, but she freaks out if they take her in the back where she can’t see me.  Yelling at her only causes her to cower and hide, so any training method with her requires a lot of redirection and positive reinforcement as well as no loud commands or physical corrections.  I am glad Clara is an intuitive and quick learner.  Sheena is the exact opposite.  She’s not stupid, but extremely stubborn. She seems to do better when I’m brandishing the water bottle and she understands the threat of punishment should she fail to comply.   Lilo is a happy medium by comparison.  She’s not a pleaser but she will do what the humans want to get what she wants (food, and to a far lesser degree, attention.)

The bottom line is that it’s not about breed but in how the individual dog is socialized and handled.  Knowing that all three of my girls have very different learning styles as well as vastly different strengths and weaknesses gives me a guideline of how to help them be successful and well-adjusted.  I would not try to take Lilo to a dog park or to visit a nursing home.  She does not make (human or dog) friends easily.  Sheena would be wonderful in a meet-and-greet situation with humans (when her obedience skills are a bit more refined, she would be wonderful at the nursing home) but not so much with other dogs.  Other dogs have to be addressed with caution with both Sheena and Lilo.  (Oddly enough, Sheena and Lilo get along well- most of Sheena’s conflicts have been over being jealous of Clara.)  Clara is probably the most versatile of the three as in the proper context she gets along well with dogs and humans.

I get really disgusted with people who claim that dogs are not situational creatures, that they simply react on instinct or out of fear of punishment. I know this is NOT true.   Some dogs are more rational and sentient than a great deal of humanity is.  Dogs are situational creatures and can adapt their behavior accordingly.  They read human behavior better than other humans do.  It’s what they do to survive and thrive.

In some ways I get tired of people who continue to believe in spite of boat loads of evidence to the contrary that it is possible to create utopia on earth.  I think we can (sort of) create the dystopia we like the best, but there’s no getting back to the Garden, folks- not on human effort, anyway.