How I planned to spend my Easter break:
- blogging a lot
- maybe applying for jobs
How I actually spent my Easter break:
- not doing any of that
Instead, I caught a cold right before the beginning.
Usually, getting sick is not a terribly big deal for me: I go to bed as soon as I can, and then I sleep it off over the course of the next few days with very brief breaks for hygiene and food in between.
But about a year ago my roommate R got a puppy as company for her dog, and said puppy has grown into a lively adolescent German Shepherd who barks at everything and anything that dares to move anywhere in the vicinity of her room, and barking and whining incessantly whenever she leaves said room. Needless to say, this interferes with sleep.
And also everything else, really, at least for me. There’s not enough rhythm to it for me to be able to tune it out, and too much emotional content (alarm, excitement, frustration, unhappiness) that bleeds over into my own. I can’t focus on anything, even just reading a slightly more challenging blog post or article, which also means I can’t distract myself in any way. Can’t relax. Can’t even think straight most of the time. His barking has woken me up so often that I’ve developed a conditioned response to my bed: as soon as I lie down, I’m tense, listening anxiously for any kind of noise that might predict a bout of barking, and in between the barks I’m holding my breath, trapped between the hope it might be over again and the fear that as soon as I try to relax for sleep again, there will be more. Multiple times, I’ve literally fled the apartment, going for a fast-paced walk in cold and sleet and rain just to escape the noise, returning exhausted and freezing after a few hours and still feeling my steps slow down the closer I got to the apartment because I really really didn’t want to go back inside.
The situation sucks for all three of us (five if you count the dogs), caused much tension and anger and some outright fights. Technically, we – that is, I – could evict R, since I’m the main tenant, and I would have done so long ago if not for the fact that R is too poor to be able to afford anything else (including all shared flats insisting on a deposit). She’d be literally homeless – not even “lives out of her car” homeless, there is no car, just “sleep under a bridge” homeless, and even homeless shelters would be a problem with two rather unruly dogs. The only other options she has found after a lot of searching were a live-in position as full-time caretaker for an elderly woman (despite her being legally declared unable to work and on permanent disability support) and offers made by some men to let her live with them/in places owned by them in exchange for sexual services.
During the holidays, I had no way of escape from the apartment that wasn’t slogging through the cold at all. Instead of having time to sleep and recuperate and keep as much of my usual routine intact as possible and enjoy my holidays, I was woken up multiple times by the hell dog, spent hours in the freezing cold outside, could not work out (a nice mood boost both due to it being routine and the endorphine kick) for a long while due to being sick.
In hindsight, this was probably a good thing, because it pissed me off enough that I still had forward momentum left once I was capable of reason again and researched and e-mailed nine dog trainers begging for emergency advice or training (regular being too expensive for R as well as me). I got four responses, one of them very promising, and the leftover rage-fuel made me merciless and tenacious enough that I kept hounding R about it, repeating ad nauseam that the situation was intolerable and it was either that or really, actually kicking her out. This led to an ongoing dialogue, actual training sessions, and some major changes and sacrifices made to keep at least some peace: R now has to get one of us to watch him whenever she leaves the apartment, and we have to watch him whenever R leaves the apartment. (Which is a full-time job for the duration, because that dog has zero chill.)
By now my momentum is spent, and the trainer exchange as well as the dog training has died down somewhat, I’m afraid. The barking has not gotten better lately and might even have gotten worse again. (I suppose that this will last until the next time I’m pissed off enough to step on R’s toes, and I don’t think that will be much longer.)
Next up in my holidays were some happier activities: my other roommate and friend S had tried Dungeons & Dragons and spoke of DM’ing for a few friends, me included. I hadn’t played in years, lit up like a burning house at the prospect of doing it again, and spent the next few days reading through the Basic Player’s Rulebook as well as the System Reference Compendium, enthusing about every detail to my girlfriend M, carefully creating an original character including a whole backstory, and even breaking out old pencils and trying to draw them.
However, I failed to account for the facts that (a) the other friends S had suggested it to had reacted considerably less enthusiastic, and (b) S is not really one to think things through before suggesting them, and a lot of suggested things do not actually pan out.
The proposed adventure was delayed indefinitely (read: cancelled). It hit me harder than I’d like to admit. Somehow I had invested so much time and emotion over the course of just a week or so that I felt like a five-year-old hearing that there’d be no Christmas this year. This coincided with another day of high dog terror as well as a prospect of even more dog terror in the following days (R had activities planned that would result in the dogs staying alone in her room for quite a while, and we had not yet made the plan to have one of us watch him), and led to a minor breakdown.
R had given me some of her alprazolam a while back, hoping it would calm me down in such cases, and pushed me to take one (well, half of one). I did. It did not go well: instead of the relaxed state I had hoped for, what I got was complete emotional numbness, exhaustion, and suicidal ideation that I couldn’t combat for lack of any actual will to live.
I went to bed at half past seven, stayed there until eleven the following day and then forced myself into some semblance of life for a few hours. I hadn’t had anything to eat or drink for over sixteen hours by then, and part of me knew that was a bad idea and very unhelpful when trying to recover from emotional numbness and exhaustion, but trying to tell the rest of me to eat something was met with vague confusion and why?, and I had no answer because I couldn’t make myself care about regaining emotions and energy and a will to live.
I went back to bed at one. I didn’t fall back asleep, though. I had noticed that my window was pretty dirty, and I kept remembering that and thinking I should clean it.
So I got back up at three and cleaned my window. (Finally something productive. Although I did accidentally break the blinds, so there’s that.) Maybe the physical exercise involved helped, maybe it was the slight feeling of ridiculousness that I could care about this when I couldn’t care about anything else, maybe it was just that my body had flushed out enough of the alprazolam by then – for whatever reason, I finally managed to make myself some cereal afterwards, and things slowly got better from there.
Still, not exactly the kind of holiday I had hoped for.
I did go climbing with my father once, though. That was pretty cool.