Monica Bielanko
A chronicle since 2005 of my marriage & move to Brooklyn in my twenties; becoming a mother in my thirties; moving to Pennsylvania and learning to amicably coparent after divorce in my forties while living 3 doors down from my ex-husband in a small country town.
That's What She Said
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Monday
Feb152010

Oh My God I've Only Been Awake For An Hour And Already I Want To Die.

It wasn't as bad as this, but close. Stick with me... this one is all over the place.

Life has been, oh, how do I say, Oh My God I've Only Been Awake For An Hour And Already I Want To Die? I guess that's exactly how you say it. But this morning was going to be different. I was up with the birds! Violet had a clean diaper and a full tummy so I figured I'd lasso up the dogs, strap Violet in her stroller and head for the hills. "Will you take Spliffer with you", Mom asked as I was gearing up. "Sure", I replied.

My mistake.

Let me digress a bit on the dog situation here at Mom's Place. There are five. Yes, you read correctly, I said FIIIIIVE. As in FIVE DOGS, four calling birds, three french hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree. As in one, two, three, four, five fingers. As in the dogs outnumber the people in this house. As in someone come shoot me in the face.

Here is how it happened.

You know Max and Milo, no splaining to do there. And I believe you've met Spliffer A.K.A. Spliffy. We adopted Spliffy from a neighbor when I was sixteen. That makes him something like seventeen human years old, which is like, eight billion in dog years. We've been ready for the old boy to head for the farm for the past couple years but he just isn't ready yet. However, he is all but fully blind and deaf. I think he can see shadows and I've discovered the only thing he can hear is loud clapping and whistling. The Helen Keller of dogs. I once heard that Helen Keller could tell people were clapping for her by the vibrations of the stage on which she was standing. Spliffer is similar, barking menacingly at certain vibrations caused by footsteps or slamming doors.

All things considered, Spliff is in fantastic shape. He's spent his life roaming the mountains above Mom's house, impregnating dogs and, for all I know, deer. I would not be surprised in the least to wander across some mutant dog-deer one of these days, with springy hoofs, a little tail and Spliffer's head. Several neighbors own dogs that call Spliff dad. Well, they don't call him dad and he doesn't pay child support or anything, but you know what I mean.

Then, about a month ago, Mom calls to tell me she adopted a little puppy. A few days later she called to tell me she adopted that puppy's sister. Chloe and Sophie. They're not Chihuahuas, but definitely in the vein of those little dogs that Paris Hilton goes through like most people go through deodorant. I've never really been a fan of small dogs, but I kinda dig these two. They're really sweet. But trying to walk a few feet in this house is like a scene out of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom except instead of rats, snakes or spiders you're body surfing across dogs.

Anyway. When Mom asked if I'd take Spliff along for the walk I was happy to. I like making the old guy happy during his limited time left on earth and a walk in the mountains gets his juices flowing. The smells, oh boy, the smells. He can barely walk in a straight line, he gets so distracted by this, that and the other.

Therein lies the problem.

I constantly have to stop the stroller, attempt to locate Spliff and then begin to clap and whistle while he tries to dial in my location. Which is no big deal when you're walking on a road, I mean, how far away can he wander? But when you're traipsing up a mountain trail, in the snow no less, and the deaf little fucker sniffs some rotting deer corpse two valleys away, deep in the underbrush and disappears, well, let's just say you aren't in for a refreshing morning walk.

Which is why 8:30 this morning found me scrambling on my hands and knees through thick brambles, snow and deer shit, alternately whistling and clapping my numb hands while Violet wailed from her stroller and a completely unaware Spliffer happily snacked on deer innards. This happened no less than five times on the hour long walk. We'd be strolling along enjoying the view... and can I say the view is magnificent? Mom lives on a mountainside that overlooks the entire valley, rimmed by Utah Lake on the other side. You can see a picture here. This morning felt like the opposite of a snow globe. There we were, inside a snowy, whirling, winder wonderland, looking out on a busy cityscape.

But that damn Spliffer kept wandering off the trail. I'd be singing to Violet and I'd turn around and he'd be gone. I couldn't just leave him there, he'd die wandering around, confused. Back in the day he would disappear for days at a time while he did God knows what, then return home happy as a clam, smelling of skunk. Now, he gets confused if we switch directions. So he'd disappear and even though I know he can't hear a damn thing I'd scream his name over and over while clapping my hands and whistling. God must've been having a laugh at my expense, I can just imagine him looking at me through his crystal ball or whatever the hell he uses, laughing his ass off while I crawl through the snow, whistling, clapping and cursing his name.

I'd start out happily enough, shouting for Spliff with a positive lilt. SPLIFFER! SPLIFFER! COME THIS WAY. By the end of the walk I sounded like an angry man with shredded vocal cords. GODDAMMIT, DOG! NO! NO! NOT THAT WAY! More frantic clapping. Clapping so hard my hands nearly fall off my wrists. SONOFABITCH! THIS WAY! THIS WAY! It reminded me of this scene in Roseanne which, by the way, may be my favorite scene right behind this one.

As if crawling across snow and mud and deer shit as tiny branches shred my face and tangle my hair wasn't enough, I also had to use the bathroom something fierce. At one point I had to stop and communicate with my body: Do I need to do this here, is that what you're trying to tell me? My stomach responded with a menacing BLUP BLUP BLUP... Oh God, please not now. Not here. The entire scenario reminded me of the time I was hiking with Older Married Guy (who I sometimes refer to, appropriately, as OMG!) We were vacationing near Yellowstone with some fancy schmancy rich couple, friends of his, that own a compound of cabins in Idaho. Or Wyoming. I can't remember which state. Anyway, we were hiking along a trail that ran next to a river when my legendary Stomach Issues struck with a vengeance. Of course, I couldn't tell this crew I was about to spackle myself. I mentally telegraphed my stomach that this was NOT happening. My stomach giggled threateningly in response and upped the ante. I agonized for several minutes that felt like hours as the couple ahead of us paused to "take in the view".
"Isn't it just beautiful here?"
"Yeah. Beautiful." I responded as my stomach declared civil war. Older Married Guy put his arm around me as if to take advantage of such a romantic moment and it was precisely then that the first battle to my inner civil war was lost.

"I have to pee!" I lied and scrambled as far away from the group as possible. I'm sure they watched in awe as I mountain goated my way up the hillside, crashing through bushes and trees, hurtling away from the trail in my desperate attempt to put some distance between them and what was sure to be a very unromantic moment with my body. Moments later, mission accomplished, I slunk back to the group and we continued our hike.

My stomach decided to cut me a break this morning and my innards settled down as quickly as they attempted to riot earlier. I returned home from the hike wet, muddy and exhausted. But that Spliffer, oh, he's a happy dog, resting peacefully atop his grungy little quilt in the spot he's taken over at the foot of our bed. Good thing he's deaf or his ears would curl over the names I've called him today.

Reader Comments (15)

Do you think you might have celiac disease? It's pretty common and really easy to manage. Might be an idea to get it checked out. Just a thought.

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKat

And I just ask because your tummy issues sound like my tummy issues. Fun stuff

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKat

Even though it was a stressful morning, you seemed more balanced and relaxed. Glad for that Monica.

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

Yikes, I have been in similar situations with the stomach and the dog - not my own. This sounds screamingly familiar - but odd too because it is so funny when it happens to someone else...and I don't recall laughing once when it happened to me.

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHolly

Aw, nice that the old guy got a walk, I'll bet he loves that! Probably a good idea to have a leash on him next time, eh? LOL!

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSandra

Maybe you should go to the doctor... cause, yeah. I say this in the kindest way possible: shitting your pants as an adult is not okay.

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterVeronica

I say shitting your pants is okay. Like you said, shit happens and I've been there. I've SO been there.

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSarah J.

It's OK, but you shouldn't have to put up with it.

Have a look at helpforibs.com. I have no idea what I actually have (several thousands of dollars' worth of doctor visits [with insurance] have not made me any the wiser); possibly just a generally pathetic digestive system, but eating this way for the past few weeks has helped me feel less in urgent need of a bathroom at awkward times. (And I don't follow the no-alcohol recommendation all the time. I'm not-following it right now, in fact. But doing the other stuff might help.)

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterL

I'm sorry but I never understand your commenters. This post was funny as hell and all you get is a bunch of shit--pardon the pun--about your digestive tract. This had me laughing from beginning to end. People get diarrhea - it's okay! It doesn't mean Monica has a disease!

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

One word...leash :)

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterACM

Amy, I'm after you:) Monica, that is so funny! Spliffy is a man of character:) but in a moment I thought he passed away somewhere in a snow :) after that Roseanne scene :))) good one! yeah, beautiful and relax morning walk, wasn't it? gosh, I loved Roseanne too, I need to have a look for some dvd now:)

February 16, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterana_jo

Everbody sharts sometimes.
Anyway, I just read your OMG story. So good, I couldn't stop reading.

February 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJ

First: Those are also two of my favorite clips from Roseanne, but my favorite line of all time is still, "Well, have another shot of PANCAKE, Roseanne." I love Jackie.

Second: I just read the Married Older Dude story and WHOA. I was GLUED to my monitor. What a story.

Third: I have tummy issues, and am unnaturally proud of the time I was stuck in traffic and my stomach tried to revolt against the previous night's Indian food, and I said OH NO YOU DON'T...and it worked. I'm pretty sure I only get one of those per lifetime.

February 16, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjive turkey

Just read the Older Married Man post- I'm so sorry you went through that. Crushing. I'm sure it's all fine now & it's a part of what makes you who you are & all that... but such a shitty, crushing "learning point."

February 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShauna

Dating that dude is one of the biggest regrets of my life for so many reasons.

February 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Girl Who

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