Since the inception of TRS in 2000, I have written about life "on the road". By plane, train, or automobile, I tell the story of trips; but the real story in each one is about the journey, not the destination. On March 15th, 2008, Daddy's Little Speed Bump was born. 21 months later, Speed Bump Number Two arrived. I thought it fitting to create a place, with a Road Scholars theme, to share this new journey.

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What's That Smell?

Today was my first day back to work after two weeks of "vacation" in Ireland. It really was more of a "trip" than a "vacation", which is why I spent the day correcting people when they asked how my "vacation" went. I came home today excited about all the things I want to write about from the trip. You'll be able to read all about it on the main TRS blog, but the events of the last couple hours have preempted my writing frenzy; just as my wife's predicament preempted my packing two weeks ago.

I'm sure there's no need to pontificate about my day. You've all taken vacations before and had to return to work. Sometimes a break can be good--especially when it's a vacation and not a trip--and you come back to your career refreshed, replenished, and renewed. You're ready to face the world again until you get burned out from working so hard at doing what you love and you need another vacation. Other times a break can be not so good; in the absence of that pesky job thing you're reminded how good life can be--and how crappy work makes it. You return with dread and self loathing and your "vacation" (or trip) lingers in your mind, taunting your fruitless though financially gainful efforts. You know what I mean.

It happens to be raining today and a bit cooler than it was say, Saturday, when I had to mow my four foot lawn in 147 degree heat and 6000% humidity. Nothing inspires you more coming home from a "trip" than four foot weeds that have overtaken your yard. This is especially disconcerting to me because I'm one of those control type personalities that tends to get a bit obsessive-compulsive when it comes to things in life I can control. Usually, for me, the yard is one of those things; but between weeds, crabgrass, and a really big gecko, I'm either about to save a load of money on my car insurance or I'm one conversation short of being checked into Arkham Asylum.

Today is also the first day Kaitlyn spent with her new child care provider, who happens to be the mother of Dr. Feel Good (the one that fixed Jen's foot before I left for Ireland). School starts next week and Jen has been blessed with a long-term substitute job for the first two months of school. That means she gets to spend this week setting up the classroom, attending meetings, and meeting the parents--with pay! As I drove home just a few hours ago, each swish swash of the windshield wipers seemed to bring a new thought:

How did Kaitlyn's first day go? Swish-Swash
How did Jen's meetings go? Swish-Swash
What should I write about first from Ireland? Swish-Swash
Do I have to go back to work tomorrow? Swish-Swash
Dammit I'm out of vacation time. Swish-Swash
Is this a martini day or a Jameson day? Swish-Swash

I was only home for about thirty minutes before the answers started to come to me. I'm now on my second martini. I plan to keep drinking until I can't smell anymore.

For you younger readers, or those of you sensitive to certain four letter "colorful metaphors" in the English language, please stop reading now; I don't want to offend you. Unfortunately, the language is necessary. It was that bad.

I said hello to the wife and daughter, gave Hallie, our dog, some love, and got myself a quick snack before heading upstairs to the bar to make my Monday martini. I grabbed some ice out of the freezer and walked up the stairs. When I got to the top I froze. In the middle of the hallway, not ten feet from where I was standing, was a brownish heap. A foot away from that, a smaller heap. Six inches from that, brown heap droplets covering about two square feet. Fuck me.

Actually that last bit was out loud. Jen heard me and called up from downstairs "what's the matter?!"

Surveying the scene for another moment, I responded with the only words that I could muster: "Oh...Fuck Me!"

Growing more concerned, she asked again: "WHAT'S WRONG?!"

"Either the dog shit or puked. I'm not sure which."

I set down my ice and tip-toed a few inches closer, as if standing on the tips of my toes would protect me from the evil now embedded in my carpet. The texture and color were such that I still couldn't tell exactly what this substance was or where it came from. I looked around, praying for a hidden camera. Please let me be on TV. Please let me get punk'd. Please someone tell me this is not real. That bastard Ashton Kutcher was nowhere to be found.

I went downstairs to get a plastic bag and some paper towels. I again approached the pile cautiously. I tore off enough paper towels to wipe an elephant's ass and, turning my head, I took a deep breath and held it. I've taken CPR and First Aid. I was a Red Cross certified lifeguard. In Switzerland I dealt with a ten year old who shit his pants. I plucked splinters out of hands and feet. For the past five months I've changed diapers full of carrots and potato casserole and God knows what else. I once had to clean up Hallie's vomit that literally came out as a chunky pile of expanded dog food (that was disgusting, I nearly vomited myself). Hell, I watched my daughter fly out of my wife's hoo-ha. I can handle a point. As I reached out to grab the dried brown mound on my carpet (just outside my precious media room I might add), the pile soaked up into the towel and nearly wet my fingers. Fuck me. It was shit. Lots of it. A heap...dry enough to be stuck to the carpet, wet enough to be used in a Brawny commercial. I gagged.

At this point I was seriously ready to:

a) vomit profusely
b) kill the dog
c) replace the carpet
d) in the entire zip code

I suddenly remembered that Dr. Feel Good a few months ago got one of those lean green clean machines designed to clean up upholstery and carpet. It was either that or the hose, so I ran across the street to get the green clean machine. It was a thoroughly disgusting experience which included watching the dirty water from the carpet being sucked into a container on the machine that turned a very gross shade of doggy diarrhea brown. But it worked, and when I was done I still had half a tank of cleaning juice in the we decided to try it out on our once white sofa in the family room. With a newborn in the house I haven't been able to bring myself to spend money on getting our admittedly filthy couches cleaned. Having said that, I was not above doing it myself, and I now found myself with the means. I brought the little machine downstairs and tested a spot.

By now I felt I was wearing doggy diarrhea cologne. It seemed like the smell was following me everywhere I went. I assumed it was the container of "dirty water" from the green machine. As I continued to work on a small section of the couch, Jen turned to walk into the kitchen and I saw her stop abruptly, throw her arms in the air and moan incoherently. She wasn't saving any money on her car insurance. While I had been cleaning up shit off the carpet and dirt off the couch, the dog had created three new piles on the carpet behind the Lazy Boy...only inches from the easy cleanup of a tile floor. Fuck me.

Up to this point I really wasn't mad at the dog, this is not like her at all and I knew it wasn't her fault. But after cleaning up one mess and finding out that the entire time she was making another, I got just a little upset. The door opened and the dog--head down, eyes sad, legs shaking--went outside.

I cleaned up the second mess while the dog watched me from the back porch. I'm still not mad at her. I'm actually praying she starts feeling better so I can avoid what will undoubtedly be a costly vet bill. In the meantime I still smell shit everywhere I go, which means this will now become a Jameson night as well. After my "trip", at least I'm well prepared. More on that in the Irish blog...after I get rid of this smell.


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