Hello little beings of light, and GOOD DAY.
It's been a while. Yeah, yeah, I know. And you know what? I'm not even going to apologize. Not because I'm not sorry, but because I've been working my ass off, and I'm not sorry about that. I work 12 hours a day, and just don't have the energy to type in my computer password at the end of the day, much less type a long and exhaustive blog entry, haha!
So here you go. Probably about 3 in 1.
The dog walking is going really well. I have probably the coolest boss in the world. He's not the cool "Let's-get-together-and-hang-out-and-then-it'll-confuse-you-about-where-we-stand-with-each-other-in-this-professional-relationship-that-is-no-longer-professional-because-you-let-me-touch-you-or-speak-to-you-inappropriately-because-you-don't-know-any-better-because-you're-a-people-pleaser-and-I-can-see-that-about-you-and-am-going-to-go-ahead-and-exploit-the-shit-out-of-that-m'kay-by-the-way-can-you-work-all-the-time?"
Wait, did I refer to all of that as cool? Haha. Did you catch the part about me being a people-pleaser?
Well, I am.
Hello. My name is Abi, and I'm a People Pleaser.
A manager I had at a previous job used to tell me on the regular that I was a people pleaser, or a PP, if you will. I didn't like the sound of it then, because a) that makes it sound like I avail myself to be people's bitch (which is a thing I actually do) and b) she was the least put-together person I have ever known aside from the retired prostitute named Kitten that I once smoked crack with in a bathroom that was completely tiled (like, even the ceiling) in aqua ceramic, and even SHE had clean grout.
What? The state of a person's grout says a lot about them. Go check yours. See?
Hope that wasn't too upsetting for most of you.
Dad, put down the bleach and put your pants back on. The grout looks FINE in the downstairs bathroom.
At any rate, the feeling of this woman, (not the ex-hooker) being able to see that about me didn't sit well. I would think about how completely wrong about me she was while driving her car at 10p on a Friday to go meet up with friends for drinks, she'd be already wasted in the back, having brought booze to the house in a sippy-cup of her daughters (what? It was the DISPOSABLE KIND. (that's her voice, not mine. Because it being disposable apparently made it less awful to bring rum to a solitary pre-funk situation in a child's beverage container.)), sliding around on the bench seat, responding to my admonishments to either put her seatbelt on or lie down with, "Okay, but I'm only going to do ONE of those!" and then end up doing both, but complaining the whole time about how hard it is to buckle your seatbelt while lying down.
Apparently drunkenness fucks with a persons ability to figure out the order of operation for living life and getting through shit. No. Way. Someone needs to cross-stitch that onto a pillow.
Now, what was the PP part of all of that? Well, I didn't have a license.
I am licensed in many things that would blow your mind. But not to drive.
SO. Any other unlicensed person in my situation without the PP part to them would have probably said something along the lines of "Hey, can you wait to drink until we're AT the destination so that you'll be good to drive there? Because I don't have a legal way to get us there, and I'm feeling like it would be best if you drove. I know it's going to be hard, because Mommy gets cranky when she doesn't get her sippy cup, but if you could just bear down and do this, that would be supercool of you!" And they'd probably try to follow that with a solidarity-inferring high five.
"Hey shitheap, why don't you hold off on the boozing until we're where we need to be and then fuck up however you like, because I'll be cabbing it home. Also, it's not cool to bring consumable alcohols in your kid's cups. Just saying."
I feel like the first one was still pretty PP-y of me. Irrelevant, though, since I said neither. I drove, there AND back.
So, I've been on a personal journey to let go of that part of me.
Do you know what New York is good for? Well, billions of things, but among those things, bringing out the "do not fucking mess with me" part of everyone. The part that lets you say no without guilt. The part that reminds you to be aware, because your LIFE can get stolen in the middle of the day on East 86th street. And yes, by LIFE, I mean your iPhone.
What? That's what I call mine.
AND, it's unbelievably liberating to have this honesty without guilt encouraged by and from the masses. I mean, some people take it to the extreme and use it as a sort of hall pass to be complete assholes. These people, even though I am afraid of them, I admire their "go get-'em" attitude, because it takes a LOT of commitment to be that surly motherfucker all day every day.
Me? Well, I refuse to not be nice, because... I AM nice. I feel like that's one of the best things about me, that I am 90% of the time (100% would be creepy. Come on.) able to smile and engage with strangers on the street, make eye contact while saying hello and meaning what I say to people.
BUT, I've been learning that "nice" doesn't mean "be my bitch", and I'm not sure why I ever thought it did.
I've known people who have been really good at standing up for themselves, and people who haven't. I have been one of the latter until recently. I believe it's partially that I'm historically not really good at confrontation, which comes from me being someone who MOSTLY operates out of my emotional places (shut it, creeps) and so if something is important/has upset me enough for me to say something out loud, I'm usually pretty worked up about it.
I can start the exchange like a normal adult, but by the fourth word am sometimes either speaking through a throat clogged with tears, and/or have them dripping down my face. This (understandably) makes me the worst, because people who are less emotional are either confused or guilt-stricken (which also understandably turns into anger) by the amount of emotion I have about something that they have probably until now thought was not really a big deal, and why shouldn't they? It's probably been anywhere between 30 seconds to a month and a half since what the issue I'm referring to has happened.
"Hey, remember that one time you did that one thing? And I'm sure you MEANT it like "this" but it came out like "that" and I need you to know I'm just really upset about it and I can't really process it beyond just that, so I needed to let you know because I value you and our relationship and want to just keep the lines of communication open between us, because I don't want to lose what we have, and even though I totally don't blame you and it's not your fault, because how could it be, because people don't treat people like that on PURPOSE and I'm certainly not calling you an inconsiderate asshole, but just please don't do that again, and if you do, I'll be sure to tell you, but I know you won't mean it, so I'm not even mad at you really, and I'm sorry for crying so much, but one of my eyes is broken, this has nothing to do with how much I really wish you would just stop being a dick to me..."
Oh, people pleaser.
Get the fuck out of here.
Since starting project PP-must-go-go, I have:
-Gotten into a very intense discussion with a cab driver where I DID yell and DID NOT cuss.. (this seems to be a very clear distinguisher between whether you are a strong person or just an angry asshole.)
Me: "So you're refusing to take us to Brooklyn, then" (this is illegal, btw)
Cabbie: "You're on 2nd avenue. You'll catch another cab. I've already been to Queens twice tonight."
Me: (slightly louder) "That really doesn't sound like anything that is a problem of mine. And so to be CLEAR, you are refusing to take us to Brooklyn."
Cabbie: "Ma'am, this is my job, I'm just trying to make money. Take another cab."
Me: "That's so funny (not finding it funny), I happen to have money in this here debit card as well as ACTUAL cash in my wallet. That I am willing to pay you. For taking us to Brooklyn."
Cabbie: "Brooklyn is far..."
Me: "Yeah, hence engaging you for this trip. Are you going to take us or not?"
Cabbie: (like Batman's maid from Family Guy) "no... no..."
Friend: (quietly to me) "Giiiirl, you better get his numbers down and call 311..."
311 is who you call in this city if you need anything OTHER than the police. The taxis here are ruled with an iron fucking fist, so you can report them for anything shitty, as long as it's legitimate.
Me: (stage whisper to my friend, with my face directed to towards the hole in the partition so that I KNOW this turd can hear me) "Oh, yeah, I SHOULD call 311. Let me get these numbers down (typing into my phone) ...8..a..8..7..."
Cabbie: "oh, no, you don't have to do that. No. No. I'll take you."
Me: "I'm sorry, sir, I am not interested in being your passenger anymore. If you could just pull over to the right at the next light, that would be wonderful. I have a phone call to make."
Cabbie: (speaking over me a little bit) "You don't need to call. It's okay. I take you."
Me: "Sir, I'm not sure why you're still speaking, I feel like this conversation is over and there isn't anything left to say. We're done with this ride and will be getting out up ahead. Pull over at the light. To the right. Please."
We're coming up to the corner I requested, and not really slowing down, which leads me to believe he's not actually planning on stopping.
Me: "Gosh, we're almost to that corner, you'd better slow down. Because you're going to need to stop. Because we're getting out."
Cabbie: (speaking over me a little bit more)"no, no, I take you, I take you. It's okay."(drives past the corner.)
I lose it.
Me: "I NEED YOU TO PULL THE CAR OVER RIGHT THIS MINUTE."
Cabbie: "No, it's okay, I take to Brooklyn. I take."
Me: "STOP SPEAKING TO ME, I HAVE NO INTEREST IN HEARING YOUR VOICE ANYMORE, PULL THE CAR OVER. I CAN CHANGE THIS PHONE CALL INTO A 911 SITUATION, PULL OVER RIGHT NOW."
Cabbie: (Slowing down a little) "No, no call anyone. It's okay."
Me: "YOU SHOULD PROBABLY STOP TALKING ALTOGETHER SO THAT YOU CAN USE ALL OF YOUR ENERGY TO STOP THIS CAR SO I CAN GET OUT. I'M ABOUT 2 AND A HALF SECONDS AWAY FROM CALLING THE POLICE."
Cabbie: (comes to a stop) (in the middle of the street)
Me: "TO THE RIGHT. I WAS SO SPECIFIC. I DON'T KNOW WHY NONE OF WHAT I ASKED FOR ISN'T HAPPENING. PULL OVER TO THE RIGHT. NOW. "
Cabbie: (pulls over to the right)
Me: "Fantastic. Thank you."
Cabbie: (just sits there)
Me: "Are you going to go ahead and close out the meter so I can pay you for that ridiculous trip? I have to find another cab."
That shenanigans cost me $4.30.
BUT, I didn't swear. I didn't attack his character. I didn't call him names. I DID get crazy loud, which is not anything I'm used to doing at any time that I'm not playing "Hey" with Jerome.
I'm pretty sure most of that volume came from me being panicked about getting kidnapped by a taxi-driver. I could just see myself being kept in a room below street-level down near Canal, being forced to sew fake Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Tory Burch bags until my fingers bled so that they could be carted around in cardboard boxes by men with dead shark-eye scary faces and sold in the musty creep-tastic back rooms of the janky stalls that line the streets down there...
Um. I worry about shit, okay?
Other instances of me standing up for myself include me telling a man I was kind of seeing that it wasn't going to work out because of the very real issues of him being homophobic and not liking dogs, and I actually scolded a man trying to drive his van through the crosswalk while I was crossing. Finger extended, wagging back and forth and everything. I think I actually said "Don't you dare" and gave him my version of the shark-eye stare which I'm sure did NOT instill any fear into him, BUT... he paused and let me cross.
The only other thing I can think of, and it may be the biggest change, is letting go of the need to have Whitney still want to be friends with me. I mean, she said awful things to me that brought me very close to ending my own life. Not her fault, as I was more depressed than I've been in years and YEARS, but still. Honestly? It wasn't that great being her friend in the end there anyway, and yet still I found myself just wishing she still loved me, still wanted me.
Because one of my deepest truths is that I want everyone to think of me when they think of what they want. Period. Not only do I want that, I expect that.
Jesus. I may be a full-fledged narcissist.
Good thing I'm only 31 and still have tons of time for therapy, right? Riiiiiight.
Anyone need to go to the bathroom? Now would be good.
On my dog walking schedule there are currently 7 dogs. One of those dogs is Lola, who I walk 3x a day. Lola is... awesome. She is really entertaining, does hilarious things like "wave" and charges groups of people running in the park at night. Those motherfuckers part like the red sea, too. So amazing.
Central Park has off-leash time for all dogs in the mornings from whenever-you-feel-like-getting-there until 9am. This... is so good. Lola and I go every morning, Monday through Friday for an hour to this hill and she plays and wrestles and pees and jumps and rolls and just fucking EXUDES joy at how awesome it is to be a dog.
This hour of my day is HUGELY responsible for me pulling out of my nearly crippling depression, because watching dogs play and be silly with each other is so happiness-inducing and starts my day on an upswing that is so great, I almost CAN'T be depressed.
Of course, there's all the walking I'm doing. Oh, and being gainfully employed. And there's the whole being valued by my boss. Okay. Things are good. Really good. But watching a dog stretch its legs by running as fast as it can in a wide circle, crossing the dew-covered green grass in the mornings, running in and out of the tree shadows... That is a beautiful fucking thing, and I love it.
Lola usually has excellent recall, and will actually stop playing for a minute and look for me if I haven't been speaking to one of the dog owners on the hill loud enough for her to hear me. My eye is usually on her, though, so if I see her looking around, I call her name in this way that makes the L's in her name sound rounded and the O sound fully hollow. She hears it every time, and she'll usually come over to me and touch my leg with her nose and then run off to go play some more.
My feet are base for her when she's overwhelmed, and she'll sit between them and let me block any dogs from trying to get to her. She gets a little possessive if I pet another dog and will actually get on her hind legs and put her paws in their face so that they have to back away.
When we get back to her house, if I take off anything, coat, scarf, mittens, whatever, she'll steal it and take it to her bed where she'll sit on it.
She chews EVERYTHING of her mom's, and has a preference for the most expensive shit. She takes things out of the garbage, she goes into closets, I mean, this dog is crazy-go-nuts. She's ridiculous and I love her.
And yes, I took that photo. And it might have been even part of an entire photo shoot I did with her in the park on a sunny day. But I don't want to talk about it and lose focus.
Because last night, this little bitch almost gave me a heart attack.
Let me let you know.
So aside from the off-leash time in Central Park in the morning, the only other times a dog can be off leash in the park is never.
And the citation for doing that is something in the neighborhood of about 125$. Not cheap. Also? If you don't have your ID on you when you're walking the dog, the cop can actually take the dog from you AND arrest you. This would basically ruin my life.
This is all new information to me as of a few days ago, though, told to me by my awesome boss, because a potential client called him and let him know that I was letting Lola off the leash midday so that she could get some running in (I mentioned that she has excellent recall, right?) and that her dog and Lola were playing together, and that she was interested in maybe having me walk her dog in the mornings.
He told me he knew I was letting Lola off the leash in the park, and he knew WHY I was doing it, but cautioned me against doing it again, because of the reasons mentioned above. He actually said that he preferred I not do it. That was as strongly worded as he got with it. He wasn't upset at all, just gave me the information about what could happen and his wisdom.
So, because even though I'm nice AND a PP, sometimes I am still an asshole, I just thought to myself, "Okay, I'll start taking my ID with me, and if I get a ticket, THAT will be the last time I do off-leash with Lola during times I'm not supposed to."
Because what could possibly go wrong?
Oh my god. Gentle reader(s), I need you to know that I am writing about this to get it out and stop having it replay in my mind over and over, but that I will probably have no fewer than 4.5 anxiety attacks while recounting this, so I apologize if I get a little frenzied in my storytelling.
Also, right after this all happened, I tried to text someone that I was hyperventilating, and it came out on my phone as "alligator". Which makes complete sense to me.
So last night at around 7:05p, I pick Lola up and we cross from her 5th Ave apartment on the Upper East Side to Central Park, aka her back yard. I know. This dog has it rough, right?
We hit up her potty place, and walk a bit further into the park. I give her the "sit" command so that I can take off the leash. She drops her furry butt, and I reach down for the metal clasp.
At the exact instant I undo her leash, The Boathouse also has a fireworks display begin.
THE. EXACT. MOMENT.
I, like a dumb human who is not afraid of fireworks, look up at the sparkles that I can see through the tree leaves as I stand up.
Lola, who is 2 parts fluffy entertainer, and 1 part purely instinctive being takes off faster than I can blink.
Now, because I am so used to how much Lola listens and stays with me (I mean come on, she uses me for base. BASE!), I don't process that Lola is actually gone, but as I look around for her, everything just ... seems darker. Like there's a Lola void. And suddenly, I KNOW she's not in the park anymore. I run to the entrance of the park and someone there is all "Was that your dog?!"
Lola has run out of the park.
5th Avenue is one of the fullest and busiest streets in Manhattan. It borders the park on the east side, and has all of the entrances you can drive across the park from. There is ALWAYS traffic on 5th, and it's usually pretty formidable.
Lola crossed this street during a walk-all-ways moment and just kept going.
By the time I get to the intersection, the light has changed and the traffic is moving. In what may have been the dumbest moment of my adult life, I run out in traffic after her. I am watching myself do this, knowing it's stupid, not caring very much, and willing the drivers to understand that they need to not kill me. All I'm seeing is a picture of dead Lola in my mind, laying in the street like a crushed stuffed animal.
I get across the street. I don't die.
I am standing on the corner, calling her name. Round L's and hollow O. I know she can hear me. She must be so scared. Oh my god. Oh my god.
I see her furry ass up the block. She's on 76th St, headed towards Madison Ave, the next busiest street.
I take off running.
I pass an insanely nice hotel called The Surrey where there are people crowded around outside dressed to THE NINES.
They tell me Lola ran to Madison and turned right.
Round L's, hollow O.
I irrationally want to ask them why they didn't grab her.
I don't stop running to do this.
I get to Madison. I don't see her. People on the street are pointing towards 75th.
I am yelling as I'm running. "LOLA!"
My chest hurts.
I get to 75th St. Someone on 75th St points BACK to 5th Ave.
I can't believe I'm still running.
I run down 75th, back to 5th ave.
A doorman sees me (read hears) coming. He tells me he saw Lola running, and she took a right on 5th Ave.
I am no longer running.
Please don't be a stuffed animal. Please.
I am power walking.
Somehow I have not stopped rounding my L's and hollowing out my O's,
I get back to 5th Ave.
I run into the lobby of Lola's building and ask the doorman if Lola ran inside. He gives me the most confusing answer I have ever gotten about anything, and I have to fight the urge to grab him and shake him.
Lola is not there.
I run back out onto 5th Ave, and someone tells me she ran down 5th to 77th St.
I'm yelling, trying to sound like this:
I get to the corner of 77th and 5th, and I'm asking every one I see the following while also holding my hands aloft indicating something the size of a loaf of bread:
"Small...*gasp* Dog...*gasp* Did you...*gasp* SEE?!?...*gasp* Puerta!??"
I have no idea WHY I just said door in Spanish. I'm now embarrassed about so much more than the fact that I lost the dog I walk and that while running this whole time I've had to hold my pants up with one hand. That shit messes with your stride, y'all. Now I'm worried I'm a racist.
A couple tells me that they saw her on Madison. That someone grabbed her and is holding her.
They tell me not to worry, the person looked good.
I realize that the girl part of this couple is the woman who plays Deb in Dexter.
I thank them. I turn to run again, and I say to Deb "and I fucking LOVE you".
I'm too freaked out to realize that I am, underneath my cool exterior "one of those". Not immune to celebrity. This is disheartening, to say the least.
I get to Madison.
A girl standing on the corner tells me that someone is right inside a doorway two shops down with Lola.
As I reach the door, a girl comes out, and there's Lola. IN HER ARMS. Safe. Looking very scared, and very much non-stuffed-animal-y.
I say Lola's name in something akin to a steam-whistle imitation.
I almost fall to the ground.
I thank the girl over and over between gasps. I may have gotten my breath on her face.
She is so nice. She makes sure I am the dog walker.
I promise her I am.
She tells me she called Lola's mom and that she's expecting her.
I grab Lola and hold her close to me, trying to get her to fuse with part of my body so I don't have to worry about losing her again.
She's shaking so much, I start to cry.
I sit down with her where I'm standing, in the middle of the sidewalk. I hold her for what feels like forever.
I'm saying her name over and over.
That's when I realize the fireworks are still going and HAVE BEEN GOING THIS ENTIRE TIME.
She's still so scared.
I try to put her leash back on but my hands are shaking harder than they ever have before about anything. I actually can't feel my arms from my elbows to my shoulders. I have no idea how to make my hands work so that I can get this dog on her leash.
Something overrides something else in my brain and it happens.
I still carry her, though, because she's too scared to walk.
I get to the corner of 76th and 5th, and there's Lola's mom. Smiling.
I start crying and apologizing through gasps of air.
She's not upset. She's actually reassuring me, and even says that she was just telling her friend how awesome I am, and that everything is fine.
She tells me to have a good weekend, that she's going to dinner, and could I feed Lola really quick before I leave?
I would pre-chew Lola's food for her at this very moment. So yes. I will feed her before I go.
We get inside Lola's building. I hold it together until I get into the elevator. With a stranger. And weep fully and silently until I get inside Lola's apartment on the 6th floor where I take off my jacket, and immediately start to hyperventilate (or, alligator).
I feed Lola.
I walk to Sarah's house with a friend where she's having a little pre-NYC marathon get together with her friends who are running with her, and I am greeted with such enthusiasm, I feel all the way better. I tell everyone present that everything is fine, I just did my pre-qualifying run and will be joining them all on Sunday for the marathon.
Because that's what people do when they train like I just did.
Oh, and remember my supergreat boss? I had to absent myself from the party for a minute to give him a recap of the evening. And you know what? He said was that he was so glad I had learned such an important lesson and that no one had been hurt, and that he would join the chorus of people who were singing my praises about how great I am. That he thinks I'm awesome, and that I will do the right thing with this lesson.
Thank you. Thank you. Whatever that was, thank you.