I’m in a feisty mood this week. I’m not often feisty. I’m nice. I’m obliging. I’m sweet. I don’t want to put anyone out. But if you want to make my eyes narrow and my cunning bash my obliging over its milksop skull, tell me that my landlord wants to kick me out. Or tell me that a dog may not fall in love with me on sight.
Yesterday, I met a friend’s new pup, a tiny chihuahua mix named Peaches. Watching a 6’3″ dude nuzzle a miniature hound who could get lost in his beard is an experience everyone should have, even if he claims that she doesn’t like people and warned me not to be offended if she didn’t take to me. Given that this is Amber’s Week o’ Feist, I thought, “WE’LL SEE.”
As for the landlords, I live a ten minute walk from this:
My genius is getting things I want for a price I can afford, a genius it’s good to cultivate if you decide you want to write things all day instead of going to business school. But now the landlords want me out. I want to stay. At least until I’m ready to leave. Which may be in three months, it may be in six. I am courting the idea of going nomadic again, putting my stuff in storage and taking that road trip through the south in September, hitting New York, and maybe dusting off my passport again. But last time I went nomadic, my life went up in a ball of flame. Not sure I’m ready for that again and I’m certainly not going to dive back in simply because my landlord decides he wants to muscle me out of my lease.
Usually, my need to oblige everyone and everything wins. But sometimes two rarely seen Amber traits get activated: Stubborn and Pissed Off. It’s a fun ride for everyone. But once the stubborn and angry burns off, what’s left is a solid sense of power, power backed by my image of myself standing feet planted on a cliff and hands fisted on hips, purple superhero cape fluttering in the wind. And my name in black ink on a lease agreement.
I’m the scrappy American in homespun breeks and a rusty flintlock rifle going up against rows of British soldiers in perfectly-pressed red coats and heavy artillery – and I’ll win because I’m defending my home and they just want a paycheck. It’s a melodramatic metaphor, but you take my point.
Often when I take a hit like this, I go down. Because what happens when something rocks my foundation – a blow to my security, a blow to my ego – it stirs up all the other feelings that have been congealing, sad and ignored, in my spleen for days and months and years until everything explodes in a shower of horrible.
Here is the benefit of spending a lot of time and energy learning how to dredge my feelings out of my spleen and give them some attention: Suddenly I can handle real life. Real life where sometimes people ignore the number one human tenet of Don’t Be a Dick and sometimes dogs don’t immediately take to you. Sure, I made a few venting phone calls and sent a few WARNING: LANDLORD BITCHING IS IMMINENT AND HUGS ARE REQUIRED texts, but it hasn’t sent me into a spiral that ended on a fainting couch with smelling salts rather than at the Legal Aid office. This is progress.
As for the dog? She totally caved. There were a few setbacks – denying a dog a slice of pepperoni pizza will never endear you, no matter how many rides down the coast with the top down you offer - but I won in the end. Consider yourself warned, landlords.