Wednesday, July 27, 2016

I Quit Overnights

A residual imperfection from my former career in the nonprofit sector is my inability to find work-life balance. This causes a number of strains on my wellbeing and on my relationships. So an idea popped into my head recently: What if I quit doing overnights?

A number of my overnight clients are awesome, and staying in their homes is not unlike being in a hotel with animals. And the pay is outstanding! But still, if someone goes on a 10 day cruise, that's ten nights that my own cats miss out on, not to mention my boyfriend. So I kept asking, what if?

Summer travel is in full swing and thankfully I have a contractor to help with the overnight load, but I'm still turning clients down including boarding clients who could have stayed in my house. It occurred to me, I can train my contractor to do overnights, but I am the only one who can board in my house. Hence the other question I have been asking myself lately: What I am doing for the business that only I can do and what can I train someone else to do?

While I'm asking myself these questions, I still have to complete the overnights I committed to. The last one was a doozy with geriatric animals. On the first night a fish died, the cat had excrement coming out of both ends, the dog ate the cat's vomit, and all the while I'm running up and down the stairs for paper towels, cleaner, and trash bags. On top of that, the cat requires shots, liquid meds, force feeding, and subQ fluid to stay alive. He still has quality of life, because he loves to cuddle under the covers at night. But I'm sorry, I'm not letting that mud butt under the covers with me. The next day, I met my forlorn boyfriend for lunch and he said that he misses me.

Enough. I'm not doing this anymore. Even if I doubled the price of the overnight service, I wouldn't do it at this house. And it's time to give the other houses to my contractor. Anyone who isn't comfortable with that can board their animals with me or find another sitter. I am done.

Whenever I make a big decision such as this, The Universe has a funny way of asking me, "Are you sure?" Except this time it wasn't funny.

It was bed bugs.

Not like like the dust mites that everyone has living in their pillows. I'm talking about the blood sucking, visible-to-the-naked-eye-once-you-think-to-look, impossible to eradicate parasite. There is no telling where I got them. I have been in the bedrooms of many houses, either overnight sitting or crawling all over the floor looking for a hiding cat. I have had numerous cats and dogs in my home, each bringing his or her blanky to cuddle with at night. I volunteer in a homeless shelter and share townhouse walls with two neighbors. And now I'm putting all of those communities at risk.

I may be vegan, but I'm not stupid. These freeloaders had to go. Shout out to Terminix. I called them at 7 am and they got me a same day consultation. While waiting for  my consult, I threw away about half my bedroom. The other half went in the washer and dryer on the highest temperatures. After two extremely unrestful nights (I had to continue sleeping in my bed to keep them from spreading to another room), the exterminator finally came for the bargain  price of $825. Seriously. They did two rooms for the price of one since I'm the only human with a mattress to be treated in the house. I also got the mattress encasement and 90 day warranty.

My household is slowing returning back to normal. The last of the poisoned stowaways are stumbling their way around to be vacuumed up. The My boyfriend took me on a #IkeaRun to replace the items I threw away.

Even slower to return is my feeling of safety and security in my own home. That is something that I am no longer willing to  exchange for booming business. I'm taking it off the Ikea table. And thank you, dear readers, for giving me the space to record this publicly. Please hold me accountable, December 22, 2016 is my last night available for overnights.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Dread Hierarchy

When deciding to dread my hair, I read about the sense of community one feels with other dreadies. Specifically, "the nod." This secret handshake, if you will, was supposed to be some form of communication between locked individuals that expresses "I get you. We are kindred spirits."

The first time I saw a stranger with dreads at the airport, I anxiously waited for my nod. He had long beautiful strawberry blond locks. Wow! My first nod was going to come any minute from this passing god of hair. Here he comes ... hello, over here! ... Jeez can I at least get eye contact? ... Nothing. Huh.

This happened repeatedly in my first few months and I was really bummed about being misinformed about my new community. As my locks matured, though, I started to get more street cred. But not from the beautiful dread gods, no. The new people with a messy mop of oily something on their heads (not unlike what I was sporting at the airport) would roll down their car windows at stoplights and ask for hair tips. They would flag me down at Petco and talk to me like we were old friends. I would be a good sport but was quietly looking at their hair like "Wait, she has dreads? Where?"

It was at that point that I realized there was a hierarchy of dreads. Some folks were brand new with knots so loose they could shampoo them out, and they were dying for some validation. The folks with mature locks had been going through this process for over a year and quite frankly just wanted to finish their #TargetRun before So You Think You Can Dance comes on.

I certainly don't think that my hair makes me any better or any worse than anyone else, and don't want to come across as arrogant, which my introversion likely misleads folks to thinking. Any time a dreadie says "Hey nice dreads!" I love to smile back and say "You too!" if I catch it in time (compliments in motion are quite common). But dang it, everyone deserves a smile. Everyone.

And yet the other day at Chipotle there was a dreadie in front of me waiting on his food. I knew from a quick glance that mine were farther along than his and a nod would have meant the world to him, but I just wanted to get my sofritas bowl and hit the road. Sorry, brother.

If you decide to dread your hair, do it for yourself or at least to spite an ex, but not to join a larger community. If you're looking for connection and unconditional support, go vegan. Seriously, we love each other and stick together no matter what! I know vegans who have waited by the other's car because they wanted to meet the owner of the animal liberation bumper sticker. Or just adopt an animal. Definitely swing by the shelter and everyone will love you there!