Overdoing It

-By ALEXI VENICE

Some people overdo it; some do it just right; and some underdo it. We’re overdoers. Even our dog, Daisy, is an overdoer.

For example, our house is for sale. Last week, we were preparing for a showing, so we spent a few hours making the place look just so before we left. Bill decided that the outdoor garbage can couldn’t stay, so he loaded it into the back of his truck and brought it to work.

Back - Garbage Can

I told him the potential buyers probably had a garbage can at their house, but he didn’t want it to impact their tour. Even though the can sits outside the garage, and it wasn’t stinky, he insisted. (To my recollection, he hadn’t cleaned fish and left the entrails in there.) Hmm. Maybe my sense of smell didn’t work from using all those Clorox wipes.

If Bill wants to drive around with a garbage can in the back of his truck, that’s his choice. Overdoing it? Or not?

We were actually glad to leave town Saturday during a house showing to attend “academic honors day” at Bootie Pepper’s college. We drove three hours to take her to lunch and attend her special event. I love attending college baseball games and awards ceremonies. We don’t have to make any speeches, work at a booth, do a fundraiser or volunteer in any capacity. Our only job is to show up with smiles on our faces and tell our daughter, and her fiance, The Pitcher, how proud we are of them.

She presented a story board of her senior thesis—a 40-page paper that she wouldn’t let her mother edit—in a room with other bright and shiny students who were all very well-spoken and energetic.

Overdoing it - Bootie

I’m so amazed at the confidence and maturity of the next generation when I see them in their element. All the student presenters did a fantastic job. They didn’t over or underdo it. They did it just right.

Before we left Bootie’s college apartment, we loaded some of her boxes into the truck, so she wouldn’t have so much to move out on graduation day. When we arrived home after the three-hour drive, Bill jumped out of the truck and immediately started unloading the boxes. As he turned to set one on a shelf, his back spasmed, and he went down. Hard.

A knot formed between his shoulder blades that resulted in a searing bolt of pain. I massaged his back with my wimpy, paper-pusher fingers, but that didn’t relieve the tightly-wound knot. We tried having him lay on my yoga blocks in the heartopener position, but that didn’t work either.

We were late for a surprise birthday party, and I was beginning to think that Bill wouldn’t be able to go. “Do you think this stretching and resting will cure your back in, say, five minutes?” I asked.

“I’m hoping it will be better tomorrow morning,” he said.

“Oh. I’m sorry you can’t come to the party with me,” I said, making it clear that I still intended to go.

He moaned.

I got him a book and a snack and threw his cell phone on his chest. “Okay, honey, call me if you need anything.”

Off to the birthday party I went.

Back - Bill in bed

That wasn’t inconsiderate of me, was it? I can be callous and unsympathetic sometimes. Hmm.

As it turned out, a few days later, yoga was good for Bill’s back. He felt it crack a few times during our session. One of the reasons I took up yoga was because Amanda—the District Attorney character in my current series of books—does yoga. I needed to know about her world before I incorporated it into the story. Amanda also has addiction issues and is trying to quit smoking to save her current relationship with Dr. Jen. So, I bought a pack of cigarettes—Paul Mall’s—and smoked a few over a two-week course.

The yoga instruction—about filling my lungs and creating space—really helped me during my smoking experiment. I inhaled deeply and filled my lungs with cigarette smoke. I’d forgotten what a strong nicotine buzz felt like—especially if you smoke while stone-cold sober in the middle of the afternoon. The buzz hits your brain like a tsunami. I also forgot about the disgusting aftertaste and the nicotine headache about an hour later. That was a doozy. No worries—a Mountain Dew and an Aleve cured it.

Funny thing about smoking. I got a good “lung burn,” like I had biked 15 miles outdoors. My lungs were even sore the next day. It was so deceptive that I sort of talked myself into feeling like I had exercised my lungs. I can see how the smoking ritual and buzz can be very addictive for many people, and I’m sorry for the grip smoking has on some. As seductive as it is, smoking doesn’t agree with the way I like to feel, so I threw away the pack, but I’m glad I did it for the character. My next book (the fifth in The San Francisco Mystery Series) is dedicated to those who struggle with addiction, and those who love them. Again, overdoers. I never have a problem getting into Amanda’s character when she overdoes it. In fact, she’s my favorite character to follow around and chronicle. Hmm.

Anyway, back to reality. You know what happened while we were visiting Bootie on Saturday? While we were gone, we brought the two dogs down to the new house to stay. They’ve come to associate the new house with being dumped there without us, so they hate it. We left them with a bowl of water and free rein of the house all day Saturday. That was a mistake.

When we returned, I noticed dog prints on the new dining room table! Can you believe it? The prints were smaller than Zane’s paws, so I think it was Daisy. Naughty dog. She’s never done this before (that I know of). Now that she discovered the good life on top of the table, however, I fear there’s no going back. I’ll have to close the door and keep her in the opposite end of the house when we leave her behind. Overdoer!

move in - dining

I’ve mentioned before that Daisy is hyper-enthusiastic about chasing her tennis ball. On Sunday, I threw it beyond the green grass into the woods a few times, and she ran pell-mell into the brush to retrieve it. She ended up scraping her little disabled leg in the process. Poor baby.

Overdoing it - Daisy

(Can you believe this angel stood on the dining room table?)

Sunday night, we were really looking forward to a good night’s sleep. We lay in bed, sleep nearby. Bliss. I heard a noise and turned to Bill. “What’s that sound?”

He snorted. “Your dog. She’s licking.”

You know the sound of a dog who’s obsessively licking a wound? It’s more than just a lick. It’s a SMACK. SMACK. SMACK. Over and over and overdoing it!

I leaned over the side of the bed and said, “Daisy. That’s enough. Stop licking.”

She stopped for a millisecond, then resumed. “Smack. Smack. Smack.”

Good night, Irene. How can you fall to sleep to that? I ultimately did. She’s fine. The scrape healed.

On my way to work Monday morning, I passed a lady at a stand of vending machines. If you were the casting director for Monty Python and the Holy Grail, you would have cast her in the role of the village troll, her roly-poly body hunched over and red blotches sprinkled across her hairy neck.

As I walked by, I heard her snarl at the soda machine, “Fuckin’ machine. Where’s my Coke?”

I slowed down to cast a quick glance at the hole where the cans drop, but there was no Coke there.

“It’s fucking hot in here!” she said over her shoulder, looking at me for confirmation.

I nodded.

“God dammit!” she exclaimed, whacking the machine with the palm of her hand.

I kept walking.

“Cocksucker!” she yelled at my back after I passed her.

I didn’t acknowledge her comment because I wasn’t sure if it was directed at me or the machine. Although, I was tempted to turn around and walk back to her and ask, “They’re selling those in the machine now? Here’s a dollar. I’d like to see what those suckers look like. Do they come in different colors? Different flavors?”

Do you think that would be overdoing it?

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