Sick As A Dog

Well, I have now been sick for over a month. Fucking A! It all started at the turn of the year. Picked up the flu when I went to the doctor for my wellness exam and flu shot. Learning from my past lessons, I did not delay and contacted the doctor as soon as the symptoms came on. Went on Tamiflu. Then, at week 3, still had a lingering cough and still fatigued super easily. Called the advice line. Doctor prescribed five days of Zithromax antibiotics. Another week later (week 4, if you’re still keeping count), STILL coughing (dry cough) and still tired as fuck. Add in stuffy nose and sneezing fits. Yesterday, I called the doctor again. She insists that her constitution is like mine: she gets sick a LOT and for a long time each incidence. She thinks the cough is lingering bc now with the hot weather (yes, it’s been high 70s– unseasonably warm), our allergies are getting triggered, which makes recovery from the flu/cold take longer, plus the throat/nose are irritated. Ugh. It really is a pain in the ass getting tired every few hours. I know, this damn Year of the Dog has got me sick as a dog.

Meanwhile, my Peruvian posse visited last Saturday and left yesterday morning: this time 3 adults and 2 kiddos (4 y/o and 1 y/o). Due to work, which has been picking up like a mofo, I mostly just saw them for breakfast and dinner. Still, it was a good visit. I’ve hung with P’s youngest sister several times but this was the first time meeting the eldest, on her inaugural trip to the USA. They are super duper whirlwind travelers: In 15 days, they are doing SF, Vegas, and Disney/LA. All by car. Makes me tired just thinking about it.

Btw, I’m happy to report that our tiny houseboat has a sustainable carrying capacity for five adults, two kids, and one polar bear. I think I’ve finally got the Houseboat on a system where stuff is clean and things are relatively organized. My office/guest room is looking pretty good. Last year, I got storage cabinets and drawers for my work files so the paperwork is organized (mostly); the CB2 Lubi lounger is working out well as an expandable guest bed; and the room is really bright and colorful. My latest addition is a purple rug that I picked up for free two doors down. Who knows what it was used for previously, but my neighbor is a retired realtor who has a beautiful home, so I’m going to assume it wasn’t a shit-encrusted rug.

John also rearranged his desk recently so now his office is way bigger. We were able to fit a monster air mattress in there for my friend P. The babies were incredibly good. I mean, the 1 y/o is super active and gets into EVERYTHING. His poor mother is exhausted! Our home is not kiddie-proofed at all, so suddenly, all my remotes and coasters and decorative pieces ended up high up on the fireplace mantle. But those kids. SMH. They left the house for SF touristy activities and were out ALL DAMN DAY, like 12 hours?!?!?! I mean, not to be judgey but how come some kids can only last 2 hours max? Is it the kids or the parents? I dunno. But again, all of this just re-enforced how happy I am to NOT to be a human parent.

That said, Bentley is having his quirks. I tried to switch him to 100% dry food and he went on a hunger strike for days. WTF. I mean, it’s like a test of the wills over here, and it’s not pretty. Bubs made me cave after two days so I threw in my Rover dog’s canned food that was left with us. Argh. Fine, now I’ve ordered some canned to mix to go with the dry. Fucking picky eater. I was wanting the all dry food diet to keep his teeth clean… guess I have to pick and choose my battles with this special needs dog.

Also, he is still exhibiting trust issues after I had to do the ear flushes. He’ll let me do it still (now only weekly instead of daily) but he still tries to run away and he whimpers about it. Big baby. Then there was an incident where the 4 y/o was petting him and then she was going to brush him. He lied down all submissive and then suddenly barked and growled at her. I’m telling you, that’s going to be my biggest stressor– his unpredictability. Sure, he’s only been with us four weeks. Still. I mean, he’s at a size where he can really hurt someone, so after that, I am being hyper vigilant.

I mean, from what I’ve read, with fear aggression (vs. territory or possession or dominance aggression), he will try first to run and hide. The barking is also a signal to leave him alone. With other forms of aggression, the dog is more dominant and confident and will attack/provoke but… still. I just feel like I can’t let my guard down. I have to watch for his body language and signals. Thankfully, the girl was hardly even phazed. I was so surprised that neither she nor her 1 y/o brother were intimidated by Bentley’s size.

I’ve been reading up on dog training. That shit sure has changed in the last 15 years. Maybe it’s similar to how much parenting has changed: it’s all about desensitization + positive reinforcement for troublesome scenarios. No more training where you rule through fear.

Milestone

I scored a pretty big milestone recently. You know how one of my approaches to my biz is to build peer-to-peer relationships by reaching out to stranger real estate agents and offering to host their listings open? Our office encourages new agents to do this, but they recommended asking only agents without our same brokerage. But I cast a wider net and ask everybody and anybody. For many months last year, I’d been on a roll, hosting an open house nearly every weekend I was in town. My colleagues and loan officers would ask how I was hosting so many, and I explained that at the start of every week, I reach out to 20-30 agents asking to host. If I don’t hear back by mid week, I text. If I still don’t hear back, I call. To me, this is just regular follow through. But everyone I told this to has been so surprised that I would go through so many steps.

Once I get the open house, I submit reports immediately after so the list agent knows how things went. And I drop a handwritten thank you card in the mail. Again, my people shake their heads, telling me I’m doing way too much. Well, that’s just how I work. And I am finally seeing it pay off. I mentioned earlier how having a great relationship with my coach led to me getting this gig with the Persian agent.

Then last Saturday, while I was attending a meetup event on the new tax laws (doing research for my upcoming seminar…), I got a call: a Chinese couple from the East Coast toured a property that I had hosted open last year, and they were very interested. Originally, they wanted to work with the list agent/builder directly, but he doesn’t do dual agency (where one agent reps both the seller and buyer sides), so he gave them my number. I mean, this is a HOT lead from an agent who only knew me, bc I reached out and hosted his property a few times.

The call actually came from the couple’s son, who wanted to make sure I could speak Chinese. I set up an appointment and met the couple the very next day. The entire night before the meeting, I couldn’t sleep. I was SOOO stressed, bc they are maybe ten years younger than my parents, so they understand English but really prefer to communicate in Chinese. I was worried about my level… should I ask my native-speaker friend to accompany me? What do I do?

Then I remembered a recent conversation I had with a Chinese agent in my office. He had asked if I worked with Chinese clients, and I said I had but that most seem to prefer working with a native Chinese speaker. He told me, not necessarily.  You shouldn’t feel intimidated about working with them. Then he mentioned another agent in the office who is Chinese-American like me. He said that guy works with tons of clients using his non-native Mandarin.

I’ve actually heard that guy’s Mandarin. It’s ok– the pronunciation is kinda wonky. He’s probably the same level if not worse. It was one of those, if he can do it, I can do it moments.

So the next morning, the couple shows up. I had been hoping their son would accompany so I could speak predominantly in English, but no such luck. Thankfully, the conversation went fine! I told them various scenarios and tactics for winning bids. And they very willingly signed the agency disclosure documents AND the buyer-broker agreement. At the end, the lady commented that my Chinese was pretty good. Hurray… so now I have legit, committed buyers!

Angel at Home, Devil with the Doctor

Well, it seems I may have issued a premature verdict on the Yeti. Sweet, gentle, and lovely at home and with my other Rover doggies. Then we went to the vet this past week. He was fine walking into the hospital, getting on the scale, etc. Then, we got into the room, the tech said hello briefly, and then as soon as the thermometer went into the butt, he got super startled and aggressive and panty. In total, we were there for an hour with people coming in and out. Eventually, we had to muzzle him and then they didn’t have the right fit… it was a disaster and a half. I mean, in all my years volunteering at shelters and being around dogs, I’ve never seen this level of aggression. Ok maybe a few times. But the Yeti is a strong mother-fucker. So we left and basically, nothing beyond listening to the heart was done. He let me swab his ears which have been smelly, so now we know he has a yeast infection in there.

We went home and I was frankly, emotionally destroyed. I mean, aggression is a tricky issue to handle. It’s not so much the specific scenario, but the unpredictability of it. Now maybe I should have noticed the signs: he was cowering, trying to get away to the corner of the room. He was fearful… so he was telling us he was scared. I dunno. It’s the tough love part inside me, where I’m not going to be inconvenienced with a dog who can’t handle being touched, you know? It sounds like a foolish, overly image conscious stance but I dunno. I just feel like the deal with a pet is this: I love you and give you a good life but you have to trust me enough to know I won’t hurt you. Granted, he’s only been with us for two weeks so maybe that trust bond was tested too soon. I don’t really know, but I guess part of the confusion surrounds him being previously owned. It’s not like I don’t know his history, right? He seemed totally well-loved and was acquired as a puppy, so where is this coming from?

The doc sent us home with ear flushes and drops, which have to be administered twice a day. So now I’m the bad guy at home and he runs off to hide under the bed. It’s neither funny nor cute, bc well, I take doggie meds very seriously and I’m not about to play this ridiculous game of chasing him down to do what’s good for him.

John says he doesn’t trust us now and we shouldn’t push him. I’m not going to coddle and baby the dog!! He has to get the treatment. Already, at three days, his ears are way better so after day 10, we can stop. See? This is why I could never be a human parent. I’m already like, “fuck you, you’re getting the shot/treatment. I don’t want to hear any crying about it.” I doubt this method works with any modern-day parent. And I don’t really know: it could make things with Bentley worse. With Remy and Martin, they were reluctant but eventually, they would just acquiesce and tolerate it. With Bentley, he’s much more stubborn and obviously, he’s bigger and stronger. The vet was visibly afraid when Bentley was acting up.

I think the other reason I got so down about this is because it’s just another case of you just never know. I mean, all those stories in the news about family dogs attacking their kids… I used to think those people were just oblivious or inexperienced or whatever. But I see now and actually, I’ve seen it elsewhere if I take a hard look. My vet friend– she had pit bulls growing up. Super sweet. Lived with cats. But there were multiple incidents where they tore into other dogs. There is that disconnect between what you yourself experience with them (they were so cuddly and friendly every time I saw them) and then what can happen in a split second. I had a neighbor once who said he and his girlfriend merged households and doggies. I’m not sure how long they were living together and then one day he came home and her boxer had killed his dog. So again, shit happens and you can never be totally sure. And that’s a new reminder/reality that I just have to keep in mind. I will not leave him alone unattended with my Rover clients. Carla the whippet goes into my office and then Bentley stays out.

But mainly, I’m just frustrated about the ear meds. I did all this reading on vet aggression after the incident. So many stories of dogs that are the gentlest, sweetest souls EXCEPT at the vet. One guy has it so strangers can touch the ears and paws and everything. No issues at all. Then, at the vet, a totally different beast.

On a separate note, you know my deal with buying meds/treatments through the vet. Again, I get it: they have a 24-hour brick and mortar facility. I’m willing to be some premium for their extra costs. And after that whole Bentley freak out ordeal, I just got whatever meds: flea/tick control, heartworm, ear flush, ear drops. I just wanted to get out of there pronto.

A few days later, I was just curious and checked online. For the same exact meds, vet was $120. Online was $85. Another one: vet was $120. Online was $100. Ear drops: $55 vs. $34. Come on, people. That is egregious. And I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, bc I saw this with Martin and his lactated ringers. The thing is, nowadays I have no hesitation having awkward conversations. I called up the pharmacist. Do you price match the online pet pharmacies? I know you have a facility and I’m ok to pay some premium, but like $100+ difference is a lot. She gave me some crap that bc the invoice was already charged, they can’t do a price adjustment but they can match prices in the future. So then I said, I haven’t opened the tablets. Can I return them then. Yes. So basically, I went in, returned, then re-bought. The lesson here? You HAVE to make the ask. Can you imagine how much people could save if they asked for the price match?

Of course, I took the opportunity to make the return visit a teaching moment for Bentley. We took him to the vet hospital again. He was totally fine: no anxiety in the front lobby, got on the weight scale, hung out. So the issue really is being in the room and feeling trapped then being approached by probing strangers. At least now we’ve narrowed the issue down some. Anyway, it’s a work in progress…

Like today. He’s already run under the bed a few times and I haven’t been able to do the ear flush or drops. I’m going to try again now. Wish me luck!

Teacher’s Pet

Recently, I was starting to feel frustrated about my “long way” of doing things. You see, while I was pouring all this time and energy into studying the details– be it reading the disclosure documents for every single home I hosted open, or looking into nuances in the contract, or asking questions about one-off driveway maintenance agreements– my colleagues were booking appointments and getting listings. I was starting to think that I was misdirecting my focus. Somehow, I was doing it all wrong. again.

Granted, my style has always been on the detail-oriented side. When I took the DISC personality test, my number 1 trait was dominance– getting shit done. But I also have a thing for data/details/minutiae. I want shit done but done right, so that means I want to know what I’m talking about. Studying the details and understanding the why gives me confidence and decisiveness. Anyway, I was starting to feel sorry for myself bc honestly, I was spending more time and not really gaining traction. I mean, how many times had I prepped all the offer paperwork in anticipation of submitting the offer only to get to the end and have the client decide NOT to submit on the property?? Yes, part of it was that I wanted to have the docs ready to go at a moment’s notice. The other factor was that I wanted the time to cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s. Btw, all along I was meeting with my coach weekly, and I’d always show up with a bunch of questions.

Long story short, I caught a break last week! My coach called me and said the office was trying to recruit an agent– a top performer at another brokerage. In their conversations with the agent, he revealed that one of his problems is having too much work and not enough help. In the past, he had hired an assistant and added members to his team, but they never worked out. As a way of offering him a solution, my coach and the office CEO offered to refer him to some newer agents who could assist. My coach wanted to recommend me!! Say what???

Yes, I was thrilled. For one thing, I mean, my coach works with about 50 agents, and he said I came to mind. Yay. I was so happy and grateful that he thought of me. He said that I ask a lot of good questions, and the agent wanted someone who’s a good researcher. Yeehaw!!! So the thing is, in general, when you start off as a new agent, you can 1) join an existing team as a buyer’s agent and basically get leads handed to you. But you earn a salary (not commission) or 2) start on your own and get your own business. The reason I started my first year with option 2 is bc my coach said a lot of times the teams have retention problems. When you join as a salaried staff with a specific role, you end up basically doing all the grunt work without much compensation or room for growth. So my coach suggested that agents learn more about the business doing it on their own… I also liked the autonomy of option 2…

However, now that I’m a year in, I feel more confident about the transnational details but I could use some more leads! The cool thing about this new opportunity with this agent, let’s call him R is this: he’s happy to have my help on a case by case basis. This allows me to still do my own thing and build my biz. So essentially, it’s the best of both worlds: he gets the help he needs; I get some leads to build my experience and confidence and earnings!

After I told my coach I was interested, the office CEO wanted to talk to me before passing my name along. That phone screen cleared. Then, I waited two days and no word from R. So I got his info from the CEO and called him up. He is a delightful, jolly Persian man, a bit younger than my dad. He was so happy I called. We scheduled to meet later that day, and bam, he was keen to get started right away. Gave me the first client that day!

And I have been cranking out the property searches and info fast! In the last few days, I’ve delivered him info for three different clients. Each time, I compile all the info, disseminate via email, follow up with calls… and he’s like Santa Claus every time I talk to him. He’s so pleased and happy. Everything I give him, he’s like “Perfect. Very good. Excellent.” I’ve learned a lot too, about commercial/investment properties. Also, watching him make calls… He’s excellent on the phone– has incredible rapport. Then again, he’s been an agent for 30 years, so his clients come back and trust him. It’s amazing to witness what that relationship looks like: They seek his feedback. They listen to his recommendations. There’s respect. They’re willing to drive 90 minutes just to meet with him. It’s seriously been so eye-opening. And dayum, I’ve missed the validation and acknowledgement that comes from being productive and helpful and valued.

Looking back, this experience is a reminder of just how detrimental my disappointments have been on my psyche. The rejection and lack of response and rudeness of people was kinda screwing with my soul. And now doing these small tasks has filled my bucket again and given me renewed energy and resilience to continue building my business.

New Year Updates

In other news, Bentley is adjusting beautifully. To be honest, I’ve been super surprised by the ease of transition given that he’d previously been living outdoors for a year. The first day we brought him home (last Tuesday night), he had some spraying issues but just that first day. No other potty problems since, no destruction, no anxiety. We haven’t left him alone for extended periods– just a few hours here and there. He does this weird thing that I’d characterize as “self-soothing.” Yeah, do I run in yuppie circles or what? He just whimpers for a few seconds and then stops. Yes, we watch on cameras everywhere.

The downside to Bentley is that he is def XXL. A LOT of dog with tons of fur that is quite unmanageable and is literally floating around everywhere in my house now. It’s a tough situation for someone trying to keep her home “Airbnb ready.” Sigh, a compromise we have decided to make. Also, Mr. B is not neutered, so I gotta get that scheduled and done. But he is so very gentle and so eager to please. And I mean, not to throw Rems and Martin under the bus, but Mr. B is smart. Like at the level where if you don’t set boundaries and stay consistent with the training, he could potentially organize a coup de tat and take over control of the Houseboat. Just sayin’.

I think J really enjoys having a big protector breed. Bentley is really so big (70 lbs.) that I can’t imagine people will want to fuck with us anytime we’re out with him. Also, he is very systematic about patrolling the yard and keeping the rodents away. Critters have been hollowing out the oranges on Bubbey’s trees, so finally, we’ll get to enjoy the fruit.

What else. Many years later, I finally made the switch back to Verizon. I know, Bubs will tell you I dragged ass on it for an inordinate amount of time for no real good reason. I have to agree. As much as I admired the rebellious image/branding of T-Mobile, that shit just did not offer enough coverage. There were also some shady experiences with the company. So I’m back on Verizon. I made sure to return the cell booster to the store this time (and get a receipt and the rep’s name), so I wouldn’t be charged $410 for supposedly NOT shipping it back.

I started making calls again yesterday. While I was on my deathbed (with a sore throat and crap voice), I missed a number of calls. No messages were left, but using reverse lookups and callerID, I determined that at least one came from my farming postcards, which I mail out the first week of every month. So I call the lady. She answers and I introduce myself, saying who I am and that I saw she called. She was so. rude. Yeah, I’m no longer interested bc you didn’t answer the phone. Um, I’m sorry, but I was sick with the flu all last week. Yeah, well I’ve moved on to other agents. Oh well, have you signed an agreement? No. Oh, then I’d be happy to answer your questions…. the conversation went on but she was just so pissy that I didn’t answer my phone at the exact time that she called. I mean, nevermind that I was very ill. I could have been in the bathroom, meeting with a client, doing any number of things… and mind you, she couldn’t even be bothered to leave a message. But me losing her business was MY FAULT bc I was lazy. That’s seriously what she was insinuating. She then said she was at work and very busy. I offered to call her back at a more suitable time. I’d be happy to meet in person, as I also live in MV… she basically hung up. And this was so upsetting to me. I mean, sure, we all have shit days. We all get into bad moods. But Jesus. The attitude, the apparent disrespect… I am honestly astonished by the number of adults living in this world who behave and interact like children. And yet, I am supposed to build a thicker skin, give the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she’s just rough on the edges, as people like to say. She has a home to sell, and I at least want to interview for the role of selling her home. I wrote her a card and I’m going to follow up.

On the up side, I called a guy I’ve been in touch with since summer. Originally, he said he’d be keen to meet in the new year to discuss working together to find his family a home. He was very pleasant and spoke openly. But they are bowing out of the market. It’s just still too high and too competitive. Honestly, I don’t think the market is going to change anytime soon (like in the next year), but I have to respect people and their choices. This is def not the market for people who are wishy washy or uncertain. You gotta decide and then go full speed ahead. We’ll see what other interesting characters I encounter this week as I get back to business.

In a Haze

Every time I get sick, I feel like I’m in some kind of alien experience. I pretty much end up being confined to the bed for days on end and then when I finally get up and about, there’s brain fog or just this bizarre sensation like I’ve left the world for a long time. And when I finally start getting back to normalcy, it’s as if my body has forgotten what feeling healthy was like. It’s a very strange experience even though being out of sorts for a week is still a relatively short period of time. I really wonder what it’s like for people who are chronically ill, you know? To be in a shitty physical state perpetually? Ugh. It must really feel awful, not to mention socially isolating.

So I finished my 5-day treatment of Tamiflu on Saturday, and the fever and night sweats finally stopped, which I believe means I’m no longer contagious. Still, I have a lingering cough with crap deep down in there, so that’s kinda gross. What can I say, another bout with sickness, another toll on this weak body of mine. So much for starting the new year off strong.

Note to self for next time: don’t make wellness appointments in the middle of flu season. I know the flu shot I got that first week of January isn’t what made me sick, but surely, I was exposed to other strains when I was at the hospital. Incidentally, I talked to the doctor again about my propensity for illness, and she just brushed it off. Said that she herself gets sick a lot, and REALLY sick, but it has nothing to do with a weak/abnormal immune system. It’s more just exposure and poor hygiene practices? I dunno. I got my blood work checked recently and she swears it’s all fine. Ok. Guess I gotta trust.

 

Big Decisions

As many of you know, I’ve been a dog sitter on Rover for the last year and a half. My business has grown pretty well, with a lot of repeat customers. The thing is though, for as much as I love doggies, caring for them doesn’t always equate to a connection or a bond. In other words, I’ve probably had about 20 different clients, but only a few have really jived with us. For most of them, they come and stay for a few days, then they go home and that is that. The engagement is somewhat transactional. And certainly, at different stages of their lives, doggies can be more aloof like Remy and Martin were in their elder years. They aren’t as interactive.

After Christmas, I hosted Buster the beagle and Cody the corgi for about six days. They are repeat clients, but omg, I fell really hard for Buster. After he left, I just sobbed and sobbed. Like uncontrollable wailing. It hurt so badly. And I think this reaction of mine, along with new feelings that have cropped up in the past month really pointed to the idea that we are ready to have a doggie warm our home again.

When I’d come home and Buster and Cody would be so excited and eager to greet me, it made me so happy. When I chased them around the yard, tugging on their toys, it brought so much joy. John made a comment the other day that with all the rejection I face from my new career, more than ever, it’s important for me to feel valued and loved and useful.

So after the new year, I ramped up on the puppy porn. I will say, pet adoption sure has changed since back in the day. Can you believe I got Remy in 1998 through a classified ad in the newspaper? And Martin we got through an adoption event in 2003 at the local PetSmart. His adoption involved filling out a form and writing a check. Then, off he went with us. Flash forward 15 years and before you can even meet the dog, you have to complete a multi-page application, including your history, how you would handle certain training challenges, a home visit (or at least pictures of your home), a phone interview, references, PLUS the meet/greet. I mean, as someone who values thoroughness, I understand. But gosh, it’s just so much more involved than before.

So this past week, I submitted four different applications. Well, Nala, the St. Bernard mix got adopted the day after I applied. Then there was a labbie mix Loki. I never heard back from the org (ALL of them are completely volunteer-run so process isn’t as efficient as it could be), but we went to the adoption fair on Saturday. We met him, but he was a little aggressive/uneasy and looked a lot like Martin. Maybe too alike.

Then I contacted the beagle rescue (Yes, Buster was THAT compelling). Met an old girl Misty, who was very independent. But in the end, we felt she was maybe too old and too near the caretaking period, which John is not quite ready to enter again so soon. I scheduled to see another beagle Max for Sunday evening. Then almost on a whim, I did a search for German Shepherd Dog (GSD) rescues. It’s kinda weird how sometimes life has these common threds… When I was a kid, I always loved German Shepherds. I had breed-specific books on them and I just loved that they were intelligent and loyal working dogs. I’d read that they needed a lot of mental stimulation and consistent training and yet, as a child, none of that fazed me.

When I got Remy, I specifically answered her ad bc she was a shep mix. When I got her though, she was clearly mixed with something little. It was fine, she was still beautiful and I loved her so much. But she wasn’t really a GSD in the traditional sense. And what I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older is that I’m more worrisome and less confident. For example, I as a kid was more confident about taking on a GSD than I am as an adult. I’ve continued to love GSD through the years but my brain somehow convinced myself that they were no longer a realistic choice– they are prone to diseases, anxiety; they are too smart; they require too much energy… all the things that drew me as challenges in my younger years now dissuaded me. Then we saw Bentley, a beautiful white GSD with the sweetest face. And based on his description, he is so unlike the typical breed. No aggression. No anxiety. Very gentle. Gets along with other dogs. And then I read that white shepherds are the recessive trait and their temperament is softer, so they are never used as police dogs. Long story short, we went to meet Bentley yesterday. And I communicated back and forth with his owner. His story is that his owner got him as a puppy but then her job changed and she moved out of state. Her new apartment doesn’t take dogs, so she had him with her mom and grandmother. But her grandmother is getting more frail and is prone to tripping, so now he’s been relegated to the yard. After a year, they realized he needed a new home.

I don’t judge his owners for what has happened. Of course, as dog lovers, we never want to see an animal given up, but hell, this is life. Shit happens. Circumstances change and ultimately, this is their sacrifice– to give up a dog they love so he can have a better life. For some reason, it makes me think of all the difficult decisions we have to make. Like with our aging family losing their strength, cognition, independence… these transitions are awful, sad, and hard. But tough choices have to be made. And there is strength, courage, maturity, and compassion in those choices. Since my trip back East for Christmas, I have been feeling so sad and burdened thinking about aging, frailty, and mortality. Some days, I feel immobilized by the weight of the anticipation of it all. But witnessing the fortitude of my childhood friend T and the resolve of J and his siblings in making difficult decisions for their mother, I see that you still have to move forward. Paralysis doesn’t help anyone.

We adopted Remy and Martin with but a few minutes of consideration. By comparison, this decision to adopt again took much more time and analysis etc. Perhaps we are more cautious now. Perhaps we are more averse to inconvenience or hassle. Perhaps we have become overly concerned with optimization… Ahem, do any of these things sound familiar? We are trying to catch ourselves from morphing into our parents…

Yesterday, I liked Bentley but it’s always hard to form a bond on a first meeting. And honestly, I gave myself a tummy ache worrying about this and that: is he the one? right now or later? what if this or that? Incidentally, I caught a cold yesterday too. I got no sleep the night prior, bc I was worrying about so many things.

But I have decided to channel my younger self. And John points out that this GSD is a common thred: I have always loved the breed and this is my chance to adopt one with “softer” qualities. We have the time, resources, and experience. And we love dogs. They bring us joy. The time is now.

So today, I woke up sicker than yesterday but feeling a new mental clarity. We have been in talks with the owner who now lives in Vegas. We need to work out some logistics regarding his neuter surgery but other than that, it’s just a matter of picking him up and bringing Bentley home.

Ghosted

The weekend before I flew back East for the holidays, I managed to score an open house from an agent whose property I had hosted in the past. The open houses were super busy both days. For one thing, TONS of families came through, and OMFG, people let their fucking kids just run feral!!! Seriously, like three or four families, all with multiple kids ranging from 5-10 y/o, chasing the bejesus outta each other throughout the entire house. Upstairs, I heard shit being knocked over… I mean, FFS, the open house is not a goddamn playground. Please control your kids or leave them in the car.

Anyway, my loan officer and I were swamped the whole time, and there were two properties available side by side, so I was running back and forth to show both homes. I gathered lots of info but bc I am still lame about making the case for appointments, zero appointments.

The last hour of the last day, I met a couple who has been renting in my neighborhood just down the street from the open house. Long story short, they said they weren’t working with an agent and they asked me to rep them. I met them again Monday night after they got off work to tour the house again. Since we our initial meeting, I’d been corresponding via email and text with info I would need. After their second tour of the house, they had to rush off for an evening work call and told me they were getting their financing in order and wanted to proceed. Tuesday, I flew out to MD. As soon as I landed (noon their time), I texted that I had an agent covering me should they wish to see houses the week I was out. I also asked to debrief now that they had taken a night to sleep on it. I followed my text later in the night with a call. Went straight to voicemail. No reply for two days. Late Wednesday they finally replied to my texts and vm saying they went to see another house in my neighborhood, a comparable. Originally, they had told me they liked my house better than that one. So I text, do you want to submit an offer on that house. No reply. And then I was ghosted for a week until I returned to town the day after Christmas.

This is just one illustration of how little respect this job garners. People are fucking rude. If you change your mind or your status changes, no problem, but can you fucking let me know? Especially since I am working on my “vacation” from the the East Coast? Also, how old are you? Can you be a professional adult and at least have the decency to let me know rather than to ghost me?!? Who behaves like this?

After I got back to town, I reached out again. Finally, on Wednesday, they called and said they submitted an offer on the other house through the listing broker. No apology, nothing. I didn’t know how to express my disappointment. And then they had some more questions… this is the story with buyers these days: Use multiple agents to squeeze whatever info they can and then just do whatever the fuck they want without remorse. There was some complicated thing too where they didn’t get into contract with their offer. Then a few days later, they were advised by the seller to resubmit. But they were calling me for more information… I dunno. Clearly, the guy was ambiguous and indirect. And just like that, no deal for me. And these are my neighbors, you know what I mean? Whatever.

As for my trip home, it was frustrating as usual. I got along with parents but their indecision and slowness with downsizing is getting to me. Dad is visibly aged from being a caretaker and sole source of engagement and stimulation for mom. I’m exasperated bc things don’t have to be so freaking difficult since they have resources, and yet they make it this way due to stubbornness, resistance, and introversion, so that makes me resentful…

Incidentally, I met up with a childhood friend from 7th grade. Hadn’t seen her in more than ten years bc she just ghosted everyone. Turns out, she moved back in with her parents about seven years ago to work on writing a book and she discovered that both parents were basically living in squalor, unable to care for themselves. She immediately became their primary caregiver, taking them to medical appointments, researching elder care options, cooking meals, getting them dressed, cleaning, etc. She said she turned into a hermit after getting buried with all these responsibilities. Meanwhile, where’s her brother? He lives out of state and is totally useless. No help at all. Big surprise.

Last year, her dad– who has dementia– had a heart attack. Mom who has Alzheimer’s had a stroke. They got moved to a facility near my parents’ house. All prior to this, there were many opportunities to plan, to sign legal papers that would have made things easier. Nope. Refusal at every. Damn. Stage. Savings go fast for eldercare. Now she has to empty and sell the house. Not to mention, seven years of her life gone.

I feel so much anger for my friend. It didn’t have to be like this. Parents, fucking get your shit together. Make a plan. It’s not right that your kids get burdened with all this bc you are unable to take responsibility and provide guidance on where you want to be, what level/extent of treatment you wish to have, what you want for quality of life. This shit is really hitting a nerve with me, bc even though my parents were great at financial planning and growing wealth and whatever, they are now stuck, unable to commit to one place to live, unable to update their paperwork, unable to specify their medical directives and so on. Time is ticking. And wtf is the plan for when one passes and the other survives? There is zero guidance and it is stressing me out bc as with my friend T, my brother is going to be utterly useless.

So anyway, I haven’t been in the best of spirits lately. My MIL moves soon to an assisted living facility. Again, total denial about her diagnosis, her weakened condition, the level of care she needs, etc. And she is completely adamant about NOT moving from her independent living apartment. J and his siblings have been so stressed about making these decisions, they are sick to their stomachs. Honestly, he and his siblings always amaze me with how well they handle these stressful situations and difficult conversations. But goddamn, it didn’t have to be this difficult.

I know all of us will grow old. We will be faced with the inevitable cruelty of mental decline and physical atrophy and we will surely be stripped of independence and choice sooner than we would want to accept. But as much as the articles insist we will ultimately morph into our parents, I still hold out hope that we will learn the necessary lessons to make our transition less painful for those who love and care for us when that time comes. Please let that be true.

Vanity Updates

You know how I follow all those makeup and style bloggers on Instagram? After having battled shit skin and acne for so long, I really developed an appreciation for the magic of makeup and style.

Sure, these are frivolous things, but they have such impact on my confidence and psyche. Plus it’s great to have an outlet where I can play out my research heavy tendencies.

So remember how I as totally ready to buy the skincare set from that Mormon makeup blogger? Well I decided last minute to purchase Korean beauty products from a Korean skincare blog/site I’ve been following… I suppose it’s kind of a shout out to my fellow Asian entrepreneurs. The K beauty system is way more complex and involved than the 3 step tres leches, but I’d been wanting to try it. So I got a few products and have been incorporating them into my routine. Holy shit, there are a ton of steps. Since I already have some products that I like (e.g. cleanser and toner), I didn’t buy the whole set. I just added on to what I have. John hates when I do this, bc he says I have to commit to the whole system the way it was designed but what can I say, I like to pick and choose. Plus, I’m not falling for the marketing influence. So now I’m a week or two in, and the blemishes have become less inflamed but they are still very prevalent and visible and disruptive. That said, the rest of my skin is pretty damn soft. Even Bubbey has remarked. Thankfully, my makeup does an amaze balls job of covering up my red spots so I am just trying to stay the course to the next level.

I am also making more of a concerted effort these days with shopping my closet. It makes me feel like all my purchases are getting their fair share of play. I’m grateful for all the ideas and inspo on Pinterest. Love seeing new color and pattern combos, and it’s so much easier to see it already laid out rather than to mix and match myself. Streamlining the process, baby!

Oh, Brother!

Earlier this week, my brother emailed my dad a very accusatory message, something along the lines of: I told you a million times not to have the grandparents get the flu vaccine. Now grandma got the shot and has a weird cough/respiratory issue that she didn’t have previously. “She behaves in a semi autistic manner with this breathing. It reminds me of autistic kids who keep mumbling to themselves.”

OMFG, this email immediately plunged me into a fit of rage. First of all, for someone who has been totally selfish and self-absorbed for the last 40+ years, who the fuck are you to come in (now that other people have gotten my grandparents to their ripe old ages of 93 and 94 y/o) and comment on how to care for others. Second, shut the hell up with your unsubstantiated, anti-vaxxer autism bulllshit. Third, leave us the fuck alone.

I was so pissed, I couldn’t sleep. So here’s the dilemma. For all intents and purposes, my parents and I do NOT discuss my brother. ever. In the past, I always reacted harshly and critically, so now we just don’t touch that topic. The thing is, even if what I say about him is the honest-fucking truth, they probably don’t want to hear me berating my idiot brother. Maybe it puts them in some weird position of having to pick sides among the kids. I don’t have kids, so I don’t really know. The point is, Dad knows I see the emails and I sometimes read them. He knows I’m irritated as fuck by what I interpret to be uneducated, stupid bullshit. When I brought up these video links and such to Dad a few weeks ago, he was super diplomatic about it— asking if I had read/watched the links. I said I had skimmed a few and then I started to rip into it, basically saying that in all cases, there are exceptions: Sure, there are stories where people got screwed by western med. There are stories where people “cured” themselves of cancer or whatever using eastern meds. Dad agreed with me and said he tried to explain that to Johnny. That was the extent of his commentary. I dunno if Dad was just trying to stay neutral, but he said nothing about deleting or blocking the emails. In other words, he will keep the avenue open to possibly read/watch these links when he feels like it.

From my perspective, I tried to stay open minded initially, but this daily bombardment is too much, and frankly, I don’t trust my brother’s judgement. Also, I am offended by his insistence that western meds are a scam when hello, our father is a retired western meds doctor. That just drives me fucking insane… the disrespect and notion that his WebMD, self-taught bullshit comes anywhere close to someone who went to med school, took board exams (sometimes even before they needed renewal– just to prove his knowledge was sharp and current), and served an entire community with medical expertise for nearly four decades. Seriously, FUCK YOU, asshole for adulterating something noble and good with your conspiracy theories. Ugh, it just makes my blood boil!!

Needless to say, I stayed up drafting an email. I just couldn’t stay silent any longer. Maybe this all bugs me more than it bugs my parents but STILL. Maybe they will listen through one ear and out the other. I just worry that repetition and repeated exposure to these crap claims may eventually sink in and take hold, esp as they get older and start to cognitively decline. So here’s what I drafted:

Dad has me screen his emails, bc he does not check his messages regularly. Please refrain from providing any medical related advice or guidance for our family. You, who are the cause of so much heartbreak, chaos, and pain in our family, have no right to be dictating how we should be living our lives and caring for the people we love.

The whole reason our grandparents have reached their old age is bc of mom and dad’s care and consistent access to western medicine. If you want someone to blame for whatever emotional distress and physical illnesses are in our family, please look at yourself and your lengthy history of bullshit scams.

I’m tired of you trying to thwart and obstruct care for our family. Mom is going to Hopkins on Monday, and I don’t want to hear anything about your deer placenta bogus product. I don’t trust anything that you say or do.

You go thru life falling into all these traps, like a fucking wannabe groupie… taking strangers’ fabricated stories for the truth. You think you’re so discerning and intelligent, yet people just have to turn on the charm and suddenly everything they say is the fucking gospel. Fuck off!

Why don’t you redirect your energies into doing some legit research about MLMs and cults and the irreversible damage that dependent, problematic kids have on their family’s well-being.

Back the fuck up and focus on being a responsible adult rather than a conspiracy theorist man-child. I will do all that is necessary to protect my family from your toxic shams.

Yes, that was the edited and toned down version. So of course, when I consult with Bubs, he advises not to say anything. He thinks my message is ridiculously confrontational and scathing. Yes, sure, whatever. Radical honesty, baby. I don’t really understand his rationale to say nothing though. I think he says taking action will put my parents in a weird position, bc then J will know I’m reading his emails to them, or maybe it’ll come across like my parents are badmouthing him to me…. I really don’t know. But then again, so what? I mean, someone has to call this shit out, bc for how long is this going to continue? This bullying and lack of respect for other people’s decision-making. I know that he used to harass my relatives too. They just listened and ignored him. But why is anyone listening at all? Sure, you can just ignore it, but why should we have to? He should stop spewing this crap that nobody wants to hear.

Ugh. I dunno if this is some cultural meekness or what. It reminds me of when my dad used to always say to me that his comments to me were just “his opinion.” I can just listen and hear it and then make my own decision. I would get so pissed at him though: why do I need to hear your shit over and over again? If you don’t think I’ll accept your comments or advice, then just don’t give it to me! I’m sure there’s some cultural mismatch or whatever with that. You know, another example of how impatient and intolerant I am of views different from my own. The bottom line though, is this. Live your life how you want. If you want to follow a cult leader like a dumbass, go ahead. Just don’t try to get ME to follow your path esp after I’ve heard your spiel and decided for myself. And honestly, I don’t want you mucking around with decisions that are critical to my grandparents and parents’ lives. It’s not your place to comment. Am I being too controlling?

John says he doesn’t see how this message is supposed to change the situation. I was actually going to insert a ton of links to articles about cults and MLMs and psychological impact and whatever. Maybe with the very small hope that it will appeal to his scholarly sense and in the best case, get him out of the cult. The second intention is just to set the boundaries: let him know that I know what he’s doing and it’s NOT ok. And he’s not going to just get away with spewing his propaganda unchecked.

I head home next week and frankly, I don’t even know how to have a conversation about this with my parents. I just get so angry and protective and then well, my words turn highly acerbic. I mean, I stand by how I judge him. I stand by all of my feelings about this but I dunno: will it just make my parents feel more torn knowing their kids are in such conflict? Fuck. I hate family drama. What’s the right way to handle this? The world-class EQ advice is to ignore it and not ruffle the feathers. Everyone knows Johnny is off his rocker. They don’t listen to him, so let other people censor his crap.

John says my parents will never shut Johnny out of their lives. It will NEVER happen. I get that and that’s fine– continue to have contact with him! I just don’t want his ONLY contact to be all his deer placenta, anti-vaxxer propaganda. And like I have claimed and done in the past with other situations, “sometimes bridges are meant to be burned so the bad guys don’t keep chasing us.” Get back in your space, bro, bc you are majorly overstepping.

Side note: Two days after his accusatory email, my brother sends another message apologizing to my dad, saying that my aunt confirmed grandma has had the cough all along— it didn’t occur right after the flu shot. The apology email does represent some glimmer of hope: 1) he can admit when he’s wrong 2) maybe he does still gather additional info… should I still send him the articles on the brainwashing tactics of cults and MLMs???