My day literally started with dog shit in my bed.

Actually, let me back up to the night before. I was in our home recording studio with my partner when I started to get a raging headache. We were working on new mix and I told him I needed a break. We went back to the house to watch a television series on the Golden State Killer, I’ll Be Gone In The Dark. Is there a better way to get rid of a headache than watching a true story about a serial killer? If so, I haven’t found one. We were watching the episode where the writer who is the focus of the story, Michelle McNamara dies. Now, I’m sorry if that’s a spoiler alert for you but it happened 4 years ago and she was married to comedian Patton Oswalt so it’s already out there. Anyway, I took some prescription anti-inflammatories to ease the headache but they didn’t seem to help. I decided to take some NyQuil because I knew I was going to have a hard time falling asleep with such a headache. Usually I would take something stronger, but in this episode they explain Michelle died from a mix of prescription drugs and it worked on me like a D.A.R.E. school assembly. It was about 11:30 when I went to bed and I didn’t even need the usual episode of the Golden Girls to help lull me to sleep. I was blissfully asleep when my partner came in from the studio a few hours later which sent our dogs into a barking frenzy. This is not a new experience and a source of contention between us when he comes back in at 2 or 3 AM because the dogs always start barking. So, the dogs are up, I’m wide awake, and my headache picks up right where it left off. I’m not sure how long I stayed up, but I couldn’t get back to sleep for hours.

My alarm went off at 7 AM because I had to drug my foster dog Josie a couple of hours before taking her to the vet to get her microchip. We’ve been waiting to do this for a while but she’s had a lot of trauma in her young life and has had little socialization with people. So when she’s scared, she gets all growly and acts like she’s going to eat whoever she feels threatened by, including the vet. I can’t blame her, if it was socially acceptable for me to growl at people, I probably would too. I can’t actually adopt her until she gets chipped so this was a big day for us. I had given her some calming drugs the night before and was instructed to do the same in the morning. So I got out of bed and gave her the drugs and then crawled back into bed and reset my alarm for a bit longer because I slept so poorly. The vet appointment wasn’t until 9:20 and I so badly wanted to sleep up until the last minute I had to leave the house. That was the plan anyway until Josie jumps into the bed and decided to smother my head, neck, and chest with her 85 pound body. I’m claustrophobic on a good day so this gave me immediate anxiety as I struggled to pushed her off of me. “Guess I’m getting up,” I said out loud, knowing my partner was fast asleep. He can sleep through anything and I am so jealous of this trait. I decided to just get up and take a shower. I come out of the bathroom and my partner says to me in a half sleep, “It smells like dog shit. Check the house.” I didn’t smell anything but whatever, he could be right. We have two fosters, one dog on loan, and one that’s ours so stranger things have happened. I walk around the house and I see no dog poop, meanwhile, my partner falls back asleep. He wakes up again as I’m getting ready to head out the door and he says it again. I tell him he’s crazy and he can get his butt out of bed and check for himself. As I go to get Josie out of the bed, I realize actually, he’s right. It smells because she’s shit the bed. Not only has she shit the bed, but my partner has rolled over into it and smooshed it into the sheet. It’s all over his arm. I tell him, as I’m laughing hysterically, that there’s dog shit in the bed. Now, I’m not gonna lie, I was frustrated with him for waking me up in the middle of the morning knowing I had a splitting headache, and for a couple of other reasons that I won’t go into detail about because I know he’s going to read this and he’s probably already going to be mad that I’m telling the world he slept in dog poop. Sorry, I’m an over sharer. I tell him to get up, he gets up, and then walks into the hallway naked, freaking out as anyone who has been sleeping in a pile of dog shit should. I’m still laughing. My brother comes out of his room, which is next to ours and my partner says, “Dude I’m naked, let me put some clothes on.” I tell him to take a shower and show my brother the dog shit on his arm. He gets in the shower right away and I start to change the sheets as I continue to laugh. This time with my brother.

So that’s how the day started. I take the dog to the vet and they give her more drugs, chip her, cut her nails, and give her some other shots. Then they give her a shot to wake up and boom, she’s up. I take her home as I want to keep an eye on her while working from home for a bit. I also hadn’t been to work in 7 days as I was waiting for Covid Test results that I got the day before, but that’s another story (and they were negative). I’m sitting in bed working with all the dogs when Josie gets up, I notice a wet spot. She has now peed on the new sheets. and all the way down to the mattress cover. Great. So I need to do laundry and my washer and dryer are downstairs where my housemate is also quarantined waiting for her test results. Fun times.

So I decide it’s a good time to run some errands so I take our second foster dog Riley, with me to get dog food, go to work, etc. I just can’t shake this funk I’m in, so I decide to try and get out in the woods, because no one comes out of the woods mad, right? I head out to Bent Creek and I’m so stuck in my head on the way there that I miss my exit. So it takes me another 25 minutes to get to the trail because I’m so flustered. I hadn’t been on a trail in a while and this is my first trip out of my house in 7 days. I finally get to the trail head and it’s pretty crowded as we start down the trail. Not just crowded with people, but with dogs off leash. There’s a guy who comes up from behind me with a dog off leash who yells “he’s friendly”, but his dog is way ahead of him and is distracting the crap out of Riley. This drives me crazy. I have no problem with dogs off leash, and hell, I would have let this Riley off if I knew she could behave and not run away, but you never know if a dog on a leash is aggressive. How do you as a dog owner and older man not know this? But whatever, I’m out here to let go of MY aggression so I just try to forget it and carry on. I just can’t seem to let go of my angst and this starts to worry me. Being outside, being in the woods, ALWAYS sets me right. I hadn’t been on a hike by myself for a long time so I really thought it would help. Instead of focusing on the calm I just kept focusing on all the negative. I probably watched too much on the Golden State Killer series because I kept imagining someone approaching me in the woods with ill intent. Don’t get me wrong, not a fearful way, but in a “go ahead and try me motherfucker because I’m not going out without a fight” kind of way. I know this has more to do with needing to do something with my anger and frustration than watching a tv show about a serial killer. I was just having a hard time getting into a different mindset. I walked a mile and half and decided to turn around. Riley and I started walking back and not 10 minutes into the walk back we came up to a young deer. I stopped, told it to go, not sure of what the dog would do. It didn’t move, it just stared at me. I walked a little closer and told it to go one more time. Again, it didn’t move. I started to think, great, this thing is probably going to charge me and I’m going to have to fight a deer like I’m John Candy in a freaking 80s film. But then as we got closer, the deer was just curious about us. It let us get really close and then finally ran off. Riley was really good the whole time which was surprising. And that’s when it happened. I finally realized I was so wrapped up with all my negative thoughts that I was missing out on the beauty around me. I started to cry which was something that I probably needed to do days ago, but I was too busy being tough, strong, and keeping it together. It was a beautiful moment and it snapped me out of my frustration. I was actually smiling now and feeling like I had a special moment to myself in nature. I filmed it for about 40 seconds because if I was going to get charged by a deer I may as well make some other people laugh with it. But now I’m glad I caught that moment. I’m not one to document everything as I hate selfies and I rarely take photos of my food. But I’m glad I caught this.

I’m a big supporter of telling people it’s okay to not be okay. That it’s not only okay but normal to feel negative feelings as long as we don’t live there too, too long. And it’s not like this deer was magic and fixed everything for me. I still have a headache and I’d like to go see my chiropractor but I’m freaked out that masks aren’t mandatory in his office so I’m not going. But you know what? I’m going to pour myself a second tequila drink and do an online yoga class because that’s what I need right now.

All things in life are temporary, even life itself. And eventually everything will be okay, and that too, will be temporary.

Josie – the phantom crapper