Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Have you Lost Your Dog?

The day began with bad signs I chose to ignore. The first was that my dog woke me chain-barking at 4:30 in the morning. The second was that my cat woke me thirty minutes later by sticking his claws in my closed eyelid. Then he bit me in the face.

The third was rush-hour traffic that crawled to a standstill. It did that, I found out, because people were rubbernecking to see a motorcyclist, unhurt, in an accident. I can't tell you why that makes me angry, but it does.

My class went well, so I thought perhaps this "bad-day" beginning was a fluke. I was wrong. I returned to my office to ensure I had the rest of the week's lessons lined up, when I suddenly did a double-take at my syllabus.

What was planned for tomorrow was written down for next Tuesday. What the students should be reading for Tuesday was on Thursday. My syllabus was one. day. off. Which means: the blogs the students were supposed to post were all screwed up, the day Valentino Deng was supposed to visit now didn't make any sense, & the due dates for the composition papers were wrong, wrong, wrong.

And I had the dubious honor of telling 50 freshmen about this problem. In my experience, no student likes a change in the schedule, but freshmen despise it because it leads to 10,000 other questions. I wanted to sit down in my office and cry. Instead, I went home.

When I walked in the front door, I got a call from my vet. In Batesville, Mississippi. "Have you lost your dog?" she asked. This was a mystery to me. Of course my dog isn't in Batesville Mississippi. "No," I said wearily. "I live in Tampa now." I can hear my vet shake her head. "Someone from Tampa called; you still have your MS tags on your dog. She's out." This is impossible. And yet, when I step wearily out on the back porch, there's a hole where Sierra should be. Fantastic.

It gets better when the woman who has Sierra calls and begins quizzing me: Why does the dog have a broken leg? (It's not broken.) Why won't she take water? (She's frightened.) Why did she escape? (The @#$% mowers let her out.) These questions and her tone all mean: why do you abuse your pet? should I give her back to you? maybe I should keep this animal?

She reluctantly returns my dog to me. I walk into my house, exhausted. All of the strings holding me together break, and I begin to weigh the advantages of alcoholism. I'm still weighing them, actually. I'll let you know what I decide.