Archive for July, 2010

Back to an old D

Debt. Yeah, debt is a scary thing for me. I think I pretty much grew up maybe upper middle class. How’s that for certainty? I mean, my family never talked about money. Ever. I think I only saw my dad paying bills once or twice growing up and then only as a teen. The only time money was discussed was if you were “wasting” it or spending too much on utilities, as in, “why is the TV on and no one is in the room?” my mother would yell, turning off the TV. I’d be right behind her, having gotten some water or answered the phone (yeah, way out there in the kitchen). Also my mother yelled about letting water run and opening the fridge, all great consumers of electric. But otherwise no one talked about money.

I deduce that we were upper middle as an adult, looking back at the clothing we wore and the cars in our driveway. Of course, this may have been due to my mother’s frugal nature, for all I know. I mean, we rarely got any clothes that hadn’t been marked down at least once, not to mention the grand layaway plan for school clothes. My mother watched for sales and tracked when mark downs were likely to occur – she still does. She can tell you when it’s time for your favorite kinds of clothing to go on sale at Macy’s, for instance. “Oh, don’t buy that yet,” she’ll say, “wait anther two weeks and they will mark it down 50% off.” So far, she has always been right about that.

Where was I going with that? Ah, debt. So, ok, I grew up having what I needed and some of what I wanted (my mother was also opposed to “spoiling” us, which meant that if we really really wanted it, we wouldn’t get it). I moved out young and did ok for the first 2 years, not rich but I had enough to take care of myself. Then came the lean years. I won’t blame it on my partner at the time….out loud. We were really broke. I mean, we were eating saltines with the last bit of Miracle Whip on them for lunch. I ditched the partner and moved in with a family nearby, working as a nanny. We were poor there too, she worked all the time, two and three jobs at a time. I did everything else, most of the time for little or no pay. Bill collectors called regularly – not for me, for the woman I was working for. I learned a lot, though, about how to deal with a bill collector from her and our ridiculous situation. Sometimes I would put the crying youngest child on the phone with the bill collector rather than explain to them for the millionth time that they were not going to reach her at home.

I moved out later, went back to school, etc, etc, etc. I was broke a lot of the time. I learned fast, though, and was pretty good at being broke. I still managed to go dancing a few times a month, buy music I liked and have tunes in my vehicle. These were things I considered pretty important at the time. I didn’t have much money for frivolity, but I paid all my bills on time. I had credit cards by then, and I nearly always paid them off in full after a month or two. I had one bad banking deal where a roommate and I shared an account and a pay check bounced – that was insane. I think between the two of us we bounced 30 checks – imagine the fees! Yes, that was a bad time.

Fast forward a bit. When I finally started working “in the real world” (i.e. not part time, not as a student), I was doing pretty good. More money for frivolities and I still paid my bills on time. I did not carry much of a balance on my credit cards, only the occasional trip to Italia or tires for the car. I’m not much of a gatherer or collector, buying lots of stuff. I try to keep it simple. Apart from books and accessories (as noted in a previous blog). I am getting better about the books, though, I have pared them down over and over again…but that’s another blog.

So, I was doing pretty good 8 years ago. And then I partnered up again. We were together a couple of years and decided to get married. When I left on my honeymoon, we had enough money to pay off whatever debt we had incurred (for the honeymoon and wedding) and I did just that when we returned. That was the last time the credit cards were zeroed out, I think. Again, I am not blaming my partner. I’m not!

I really think it is something about me and the way I interact, want to interact, want to be when I am with someone else. I am totally serious. Check this out: this person mentioned a concert this week on fb. I am interested in the person and the concert, so I ask if they’d like to go with me. They messaged me back saying they can’t afford it this month for whatever reason. Now, the healthy thing to do would be to say, I understand, maybe next time, something like that, right? The first thing that occurred to me to say, instead, was to offer to buy their ticket too.

Seriously? First, I have never been out with this person so I have no idea…I mean, I don’t even know them. Second, lately it seems that I have been attracting people without money and maybe this is a hint (I’m not trying to judge, just saying, don’t I want to be with someone who doesn’t make errors with their money?). Thirdly, HELLO, I just incurred a huge debt for the dog’s bills WHICH I am planning a fund raiser for. What am I thinking? I can’t afford a ticket either, much less TWO. Scary.

I am ready to be done with the debt, and part of that means not doing things I can’t afford. Not for me or anyone else.

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Tomato soup

They said that his temp came down quickly and that was a good sign. They kept him overnight and MAN it was quiet in my house that night!

I picked him up the next day and he walked out to the car and got in under his own power. I was incredibly grateful that he was feeling better and only winced slightly as I paid the bill – I’d worry about that later.

I didn’t work that day – in fact I picked him up about 7:30 am and was napping by 9 am. He slept pretty much all morning and I fed him about half of a normal meal around lunch time (as was recommended by the vet). He was still breathing hard nearly all the time, but he didn’t look strange and wobbly any more and I was so glad.

About 2 pm I took him outside and watched as he pee’d….blood. Yes, great, I could see it clearly, the pee coming out of my dog was red. My heart started pounding again and I called my regular vet – the fantastic Dr. Leilani Hotaling. No, seriously, she rocks. I had already called them earlier but now I called to ask if they had time for us. I got an appointment for 4:30 pm, but I pretty much headed right down – this was too scary to do alone.

Dr. Leilani’s assessment of Bodhi’s urine was that it looked like tomato soup. Ouch.

Awww.

The next time I saw Bodhi, he looked like this:

Deposit for services – really?

We arrive at the vet and the guy comes out with a gurney. We scooped Bodhi up in the blanket. I climbed through the car carrying my end…thinking again, “why, why such a big dog?” We got him on to the gurney and away he went. Is it wrong to admit that as the guy pulled up the sides I thought about taking a picture? I’m sorry, but he really looked cute! Sad, but cute. They whisked him to the back and put him in a cold pack and started IV fluids.

After they whisked him away on the gurney the desk clerk came out and asked me to put a deposit down on his care. $1200. I told him I would be happy to write a check…but that it would bounce if they tried to cash it. He said, “Let me see if we can do something about that.” He came back 5 minutes later saying, “Ok, we have eliminated all the non essential services and we are down to $670.”

Really? I mean, really? Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate them doing that for me. And I recognize that by electing to not have all the things on that first sheet done, I may have hurt my dog. And he is REALLY important to me. I take pretty good care of him and all of that. It’s just that I don’t have any credit right now and really no cash available in the bank. So I have plenty of guilt already about this trip to the ER vet.

I do still have enough emotion left over, though, to be kind of pissy about the fact that here I was, distraught over my dogs health and they present me with an estimate – nearly half of which they consider non essential? That bugs me, I ain’t even gonna lie about it.

Sitting on the side of the road

So, where were we? Ah, yes, sitting on the side of the road, Bodhi panting and me growing more concerned by the minute. The thing was, if he was too tired to walk home, I didn’t have many options. The boy weighs about 100 pounds, and besides, I had the bike with me. I considered just walking the bike home, but when I stood after about 10 minutes, he didn’t even look at me. I figured that was a bad sign.

A few more minutes passed and then a guy going the other way flipped a u-turn and pulled up beside us. A man in a ball cap got out of the car, carrying a bottle of water. “Looks like he needs some water,” he said, and began to attempt to pour water in to Bodhi’s mouth. I have to admit, I was kind of thinking, “uh, really?” Not that I didn’t appreciate the help, just that none of my dogs ever really liked to drink from a bottle like that. The guy went on talking, saying that Bodhi’s tongue was turning purple, something I hadn’t noticed, and that that was a sign of dehydration. By then I had cupped my hands so that Bodhi could drink from my palms. Except that he didn’t. He turned his head away.

Another man came up, this one on a bike and a bit older than the first. I had seen him before while out running with Bodhi. He stopped and asked what was going on. The guy in the ball cap explained that he thought the dog was dehydrated. Then he asked me where I lived. I told him we were less than a mile from home. Ballcap offered to stay with Bodhi while I went home for my car. The older gentleman on the bike raised his eyebrows and offered me his phone – but like I said – no one was home at my house. As I considered my options, the older gentleman said, “I’ll wait too if you want to go.”

So I did, I headed home as fast as I could go and jumped into my car and raced back. By the time I got there, there were 5 people standing around Bodhi and two more cars. Bodhi didn’t even lift his head as I approached. One older woman began to scold me right away, chiding me for having the dog out on such a hot day, etc. She told me he could really be in trouble. I told her she didn’t need to scold me, that I was worried enough already.

Luckily, Bodhi walked most of the way into the car on his own, we only really had to help get his rear in, and off I went.

I went back home first (I totally jumped in my car without my wallet or my phone) and called the local emergency vet. They told me I didn’t need to bring him in if he was eating and drinking ok. He looked better to me, there in the back of my car, so I decided to get him into the house and see how he was. I opened the back door and he hopped out. He walked a few steps but before he got to the door his back legs seemed to go out from under him, and he was down again. To be totally honest, this is when my heart really started to pound and panic set in.

I stood over him as I dialed the vet again to tell them I was bringing him in. I realized that he probably wasn’t going to be able to walk to the car. I stood there, thinking, “why do I have such a big dog?!”

I got the blanket out of the car and put it along his back, then flipped him over onto it. The way he allowed me to manipulate his body scared me some more. I pulled the blanket over the grass to the car, but then there was the problem of how to get him into the car. Even though I could probably lift him up, you know, around the legs like you do sheep? But then how would I get him into the narrow car door opening? Why don’t I own a truck?! I used to have a Blazer, I could have just picked him up and put him in the back!

Instead of lifting him, I put on my happy voice and encouraged him to his feet. He managed to get his front legs onto the seat and I lifted him the rest of the way in and we were off. Whew!

Back to July 20th

Getting back to Tuesday…

Bodhi and I got to the dog park about 6:10 pm. Bodhi found a playmate right away – a 7 month old English Bulldog. Have you seen these dogs?

Cute, right? But even at 7 months, this is a stocky dog, not a runner. The one we met had the old “bowling ball” approach to life – roll in to whatever is in your way and knock it down. He didn’t dash or race about, he meandered.

Bodhi spent most of his time following that dog around. He also attempted to drink all the water anyone poured into any bowl – something that he normally does at the dog park. His behavior did not seem abnormal in anyway at that time.

After about an hour, I decided it was time to go. As I was getting ready to go I stopped to talk to a friend, and Bodhi lay down. This was somewhat unusual, but not completely. I mean, I knew he was tired.

We headed for home at a slow rate – a mere 4 miles an hour. Bodhi was not in any hurry, and neither was I. As we got about a mile from home, I heard one of Bodhi’s feet drag the ground. This was not normal either, and I slowed and stopped. I looked at Bodhi and walked the bike forward a few steps to see if he was limping. He did not appear to be limping, so I biked another few feet when I heard the dragging sound again. I stopped again. This time, Bodhi looked wobbly to me. He sat and then lay down, pretty fast. I mean, he flopped over, panting. Now I was worried.

After a minute or two, I sat down beside him. He wasn’t going anywhere. Of course I wasn’t carrying a phone, and besides, no one was home at my house – my roomie was out of town. I decided to wait.

A little Bodhi history

Bodhi and I spent about an hour at the park. His behavior has really improved over the last year, so it wasn’t as stressful as it used to be.

See, Bodhi is a rescue dog, and he spent a month at the Humane Society and then another three months at the Crossroads Shelter in Buffalo, MN. He was only about six months old when he was picked up (for the third time) by the dog pound. He was, his ex-owners said, “a runner.” He ran away one too many times and they refused to pick him up at the Humane Society.

When I got him, they told me his name was Charlie. When I called him by that name, however, he wouldn’t even look at me, so I changed it. I named him Bodhi for all the enlightenment he would surely bring to my life.

He was so calm when we first brought him home, in fact he spent most of his days sleeping. After about a week, however, his torpor disappeared and he became, frankly, a little nutty.

One of his favorite tricks was to run around crazily jumping on the furniture. You can see a short video of this over under the Flikr widget.

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