Sunday, September 19, 2010

City Sitting

My new side-job in Montana is house sitting (for gift cards, of course) and I have spent the past few days out at a house in the mountains. This would be an easier side job if I wasn't such a germaphobe. I am watching two dogs whose favorite hobbies are sleeping and eating poop. I wish I was joking. This fact is even confirmed in the house-sitting instructions left by the family.

But I digress... These dogs get one walk in the morning and one at night - about a mile and a half total. We walk to the mailboxes and back and the dogs are supposed to faithfully walk by my side. The only problem? They don't. This is wild Montana and there are animals everywhere. There are bear scratches on the front porch, ground squirrels running around the fallen logs outside, birds aplenty, etc. The wild animals insure the presence of dead critters along our walk.

The dogs (twice in 24 hours) have run off the path, up into the woods, and out of sight to chew off pieces of dead animals. This means I have had to run up a muddy bank after them, chase them through the trees, and try to convince them to follow me home. There is no way to convince them to drop their rotting treats. Once they finish the treats, they loyally follow me home, only stopping to eat every pile of poop they can find.

One time one of the dogs refused to drop this rotting animal bone she found and carried it all the way home. She refused to drop it, even once back at the house, so I dry heaved and tried not to vomit while I took a piece of paper and used it as a barrier to pry the moldy, gristly bone out of her mouth.

This morning on the way home one dog started eating poop, I begged her to follow me, she looked at me, picked up the poop and jumped in the river to finish her shit snack.

You know how people say "you are what you eat?" I disagree. I say you smell like what you eat. I smell like yogurt, oatmeal, and garlic, I am sure. But these dogs smell like poop. ALL OVER. I literally gagged when I walked into the basement where they sleep this morning.

I decided to give the dogs both baths. Keep in mind I have never bathed a dog, I am still not sure how it works, and I was dry heaving just looking at these dogs. I convinced one to follow me to the tub and told her to get in. No go. I threw in a dog treat. No go. I threw in her favorite toy... she was freaking out but not getting in the tub. Then I gave up. I grabbed the shampoo, took the dogs outside and found the hose. I dumped Herbal Essences down their backs, then one by one held their collars as I sprayed them with the hose, screaming every time they shook off. I even tried to spray the hose in their mouth to no avail. Their breath smells REALLY BAD!

I ran back in the house, pried their beds away from under their wet bodies, and threw the covers in the washer. The dogs sat and stared at me, smelling like a mixture of poop, shampoo, and wet dog. Not a good improvement. I put them back in the basement to dry, then showered and scrubbed in a hot shower.

I might be a bit over my head here in Montana.

Monday, September 13, 2010

My "Effing" Staff Retreat

My office just had its staff retreat, and decided to mark the occasion with a "Team Building Ropes Course." I am one of the most competetive people in the world, so I decided to climb the 30 feet to the high course first. I made it to the top and crossed the first path with ease. I essentially had to walk a tight rope while going around large boards in my way. HA! That was EASY! I knew I would have no problem with the rest of the course.

While I was crossing, a few more staff members climbed on up. Others climbed halfway up, looked down, then hastily climbed down. There were three of us up by the time I crossed the first path. One, our executive director crossed to the middle while the other crossed to the far side. I decided to impress the ED by crossing the tire swing portion to get to the middle with her.

The paths of the ropes course had several degrees of difficulty. Unfortunately for me, they were named after ski slopes - Blue, green, black diamond, and double black diamond. This is unfortunate because I had never skied before, so I was just going by what sounded nice, "Oooh, two black diamonds? That sounds fun!"

Double black diamond is the hardest skii difficulty, and many of our skii staff said they wouldn't attempt it. Now mind you, we weren't skiing, we were playing on ropes! And these ones had tires! They looked fun!

I stepped into the first tire and swung out. I quickly grabbed the second tire. Oh wait. My harness was wrapped around the first tire. I had to go back. I pulled on my harness with one hand and the tire with the other and untwisted myself. I soon made it to the third tire. My coworkers were cheering me on.

By the fifth tire, I was exhausted. My legs shook as I reached for the next tire. My abs were screaming in agony, and my arms were holding on for dear life, but they were quickly giving up hope. My coworkers continued to cheer.

I finally reached the last tire. My body was failing. I was using muscles I didn't know I had. But wait. I didn't know how to get from my flimsy, swaying tire swing to the steady, but high up platform. My coworkers' cheers became mixed with helpful suggestions. This, mixed with my competetive nature made me self conscious. I put on the happiest voice I could muster and called, "Hey! Thank's everyone, but could you please stop cheering for me?"

My Executive Director was standing at the platform. I looked up at her in misery and asked for a hand. She pulled me up to the platform and said, "That was the nicest way I have ever heard anyone say 'shut the fuck up.'" ... ah well, at least I impressed her with that, if not with my incredible athletic ability.

I was thrilled to make it to the middle, but then realized the fastest way down (to relieve my achy muscles) would be to cross over TWO more courses. I tried not to whimper as I went over a green and a blue course. One was simple, only using leg stretches to reach widespread platforms. The other required my shaky arms to hold on to a series of ropes dangling from a wire above to cross. The cute guys running the course didn't even ask me to climb down, they just lowered me on a rope until I could lay in the sawdust below.

After all staff members returned safely to the ground and stopped for Starbucks in the ski lodge, we were handed a few starburst and told to give them to people we thought were "stars." I handed mine to the ED and said with a huge smile, "This is for dropping 'F' bombs with me on that middle platform, AND for getting me off those effing tires. For that, you are a star."

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Calling in sick to work.

In AmeriCorps we get 10 sick days and 10 vacation days. I plan on using my ten vacation days to get home for Christmas, so I have to use sick days when I want to skip work. This morning was one of those days.

But I digress. I woke up this morning feeling terrible, pushed snooze on my alarm, and fell back asleep debating if I should call in fake-sick to work. When I woke later, in a house I am house sitting for (illegal in AmeriCorps to earn any extra money, so this was already a big no-no) I went to the kitchen to make my tea, and found a TON of people. Not four or five... more like hundreds. Drinking. Partying. Trashing the house. Apparently they were all there by invitation from a bunch of my Portland friends (hi guys!).

I quickly ran back to my room to get dressed and grab my phone - I had to call in to work, you see - and found the first of many house party games. This one was called quilting, and the object was to dip your feet/high heels/muddy boots in red paint, then jump on various beds throughout the house to see who can make the prettiest quilt. I was livid.

I ran to the kitchen to find my friends again and a game of MASH had broken out. This was not the MASH we played as kids, oh no. That would have been fine. This game involved dumping an ant farm on the kitchen floor and seeing how many you could mash with a broom before they crawled to infest the house.

Oh sorry - I know I said hundreds of people, but let me put this party a bit more in perspective for you. Will Smith was in attendance and NOBODY cared. He was in the living room watching people "bull fight" with the taxidermied elk and buffalo wall decorations (it's Montana. Those are popular decorations).

As I carried several red paint-covered quilts upstairs to the laundry, spraying every inch of the house in raid, and yelling at guests it hit me. I still hadn't called into work. I quickly dialed the number and began in on my excuse.

Me: (sounding miserable) Hi. It's Alyssa. I have a migrane so I won't be coming into work today.
My mom: (jokingly) I would have a migrane too, if I was at that party. Oh my gosh. You aren't seriously trying to call into work with that excuse, are you? Where are you?
Me: Damn Damn Damn. I know. I know. Sorry. I will call you later.

I went through an endless maze of closets and rooms looking for the laundry, frantically thinking of a better excuse for calling in to work. "Personal Day" was sounding more and more like the winner as I opened room after room of people tearing this house apart. I finally found the washer - being blocked by someone's rabid dog. I threw the blankets at the dog and began to run around frantically asking people to leave. It took forever, but finally the house was empty. Even Will Smith left. I surveyed the damage on the house - millions of dollars.

I crawled back into my bed, exhausted and fell asleep. When I woke up I realized I still hadn't called in to work. And wait... is this MY bed? Am I in MY house? IS THAT THE TIME!? I quickly called work - running late even now that I was out of my dream world - and came up with a logical excuse. "Hi... ummm... it's me... Alyssa. I,uh, slept through my alarm. haha. I mean. I am on my way." Eloquent, I know.

I figured a day at my desk, shoved in a corner, speaking to nobody would be FAR better than going back to that dream house and trying to pry those quilts from the rabid dog I gave them to.