Will I go to Hell if I Leave a Steaming Pile of Shit on My Neighbor’s Doorstep?

I don’t “like people.” I’m not a “people person.” It has been said that I am April Ludgate in the flesh. If you didn’t watch Parks and Recreation, then perhaps you remember the part Ally Sheedy played in The Breakfast Club. It’s also been about 25 years since I’ve lived in an apartment so I forgot about the dynamics. And because of dogs and aging backs, I thought a first-floor situation made sense.

So we have this neighbor directly above us. He appears to have an outdoor job and it’s summer in Tucson so he gets up at around 4:10 to 4:15 am every morning. It literally sounds like he’s up there doing CrossFit. The floor joists squeak like he’s about to land in my lap. He’s always dropping things on the floor and slamming drawers. It’s obnoxious as hell. He finally leaves at around 5:15. One morning, my thought process included two options: I was either poking a hole in the ceiling while making my point or taking my boy for an early-morning jaunt.

Since realizing I don’t have to be chained to a cubicle in order to work, my schedule has become super manageable. I work onsite for a client for a few hours in the middle of the day. This gives me the flexibility to work with the bf on our own projects and not be dominated by the clock. I can make this ass-crack-of-dawn thing work. Trying to be positive here!

I was immediately struck by how different the neighborhood felt in the early morning hours. The air smelled different to Sherman and he showed extreme interest in objects he typically ignores. That particular morning, a convenience store about a mile down the road was taped off with officers gathering evidence in the parking lot. The red and blue lights looked so pretty in the barely pre-dawn light…not at all jarring as in full darkness. Another mile or so into our route, a fire truck and ambulance with lights on hit the sirens as soon as they exited the neighborhood.

CrossFit Neighbor’s wakeup time is just a few minutes early for my comfort zone. Like, I can see but not well enough to guide Sherman around broken glass with confidence but the temperature is glorious. June is the worst month of the year in Tucson. So even when we had a week of 117-degree highs, we could do three miles and not die. Some mornings, we were lucky enough to pass by the park and golf course just after the sprinklers ran and the wind was just right so we got that extra cool breeze.

That first morning especially, I wished I had my phone to capture the images but in this neighborhood, I don’t carry anything of value. There are increasing numbers of homeless sleeping along our route and in the park we pass by. The storm drains and washes are extremely unsafe during monsoon season so folks move to higher ground until things dry out again. One morning, we passed by a man asleep on the sidewalk. Having just been rudely awakened by CrossFit Neighbor, I tried to get by him as quietly as possible. As we came back around on our way home, he said “good morning” to Sherman. I’ll take that guy over people who make a wide arc around dogs every day of the week and twice on Tuesday.

I’ve been noticing an awful lot of real life lately. There was a woman sitting on the side of a road heading toward the Tucson Mountains with her back against a guard rail the Monday after we lost Lulu. No shoes, knees up, head in hands. For a moment, I considered stopping but my frame of mind was likely just as bad considering what had transpired the day before.

The very next morning, closer to the mountains, I glanced at a pickup parked on the shoulder with the hood up and the driver making a call. When I drove by again that afternoon, the truck was still there with its hood up but the driver was gone. The following morning, I was passed by a Pima County Sheriff Department truck with a dog kennel on the back… lights on and hauling ass. The deputy stopped behind that parked pickup with the hood up, joining another PCSD vehicle. The addition of the K9 unit made me worry the driver never reached his destination.

Similar things have undoubtedly been going on around me all along and I’ve just been blissfully oblivious. I wonder why I’m noticing them now. Has the volume increased exponentially or has my perspective changed?

That first morning, Sherman and I returned home before the sun had fully risen. CrossFit Neighbor had already left for work. Flipping the script, I was able to lie down and go back to sleep.

Thanks for the wake-up call, asshole. Hope you enjoyed your day.

Lulu Belle Plott, Dies at 12

Lulu Belle Plott, beloved hound about town, died in her mother’s arms at a hospital in Tucson, Arizona on May 16, 2021. According to the emergency veterinarian, the cause was unknown. She was 12.

“Honey Lulu” was skilled at telling time, a lover of rolling in snow, lap warmer, runner, explorer, hard booper, sushi eater, reluctant parade walker, serial bone thief, mesquite pod addict, rabbit hunter, rope puller, face licker, and all around drama queen.

Although socially awkward, she had a lot to say. Ms. Plott had strong pupinions about plain Greek yogurt, sky booms, and memory foam pillows.

She lived by a simple motto: “Life is best slept between two pillows or two humans.”

Lulu Plott was born in Texas in 2009. She moved to Kansas with her family soon after and was abandoned as a young pup. She suffered homelessness and food insecurity prior to being adopted by a concerned neighbor.

Despite her troubled beginnings, Ms. Plott was a well-traveled hound.

She moved to Arizona in 2012 and quickly adapted to desert life. After living in Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico for more than a year, Ms. Plott recently returned to the famous retirement community of Tucson, Arizona. She also made trips to California, Nevada, Utah, and Idaho.

Lulu graduated from Obedience School at the Dodge City Kennel Club in Dodge City, Kansas in 2010. She was a member of the Gourmet Feces of the Week Club, Hole Digger Society of America, and Arizona Gecko Hunters Club, and was a loyal fan of Paw and Order. 

After retiring from her career as a hall monitor, she volunteered as a running partner, food taste tester, and emotional support dog.

Ms. Plott is survived by her pawrents, Ann and Andrew as well as her brother, Sherman, of the home; grandpawrents in Dodge City, Kansas; cousins in Arizona, Kansas, and Nebraska. She was preceded in death by brothers Rommel and Patton; cousins Lola Sophia Maria Theresa, Leonard Suzanne, Louie, Enzo Romeo, and Esther May.

There will be no public visitation, as cremation has taken place. The family suggests donations to support veterinarians in crisis.

Returning to the US: Back in the Dirty T

I arrived in Rexburg, Idaho at the end of January without a winter coat. That’s how my year was going. Then I learned there wasn’t really a place for the dogs: No securely fenced area for them to go off-leash and they weren’t even supposed to be in the house. It was beyond cold outside and them sleeping in an outbuilding alone in a strange place just wasn’t going to happen so we were able to negotiate main floor privileges. The bedrooms were all upstairs so we ended up on a sofa sleeper. Sherman was pupset and refused to poop.

Sherman also failed to understand why he wasn’t allowed to chase deer through pastures.

We were there just over three (very long) weeks and pretty much every day was exactly like that: The housing picture, the jobs picture, the weather picture…all bleak. I had forgotten about rural Idaho’s paved country roads being really shitty for walking dogs.

Lulu also didn’t enjoy the lack of freedom but at least she could scratch her back.

Literally every single thing I needed to do was a fucking struggle: Laundry, dishes, bathing, heat, you name it.  If you know me, you can imagine my mood. Due to reasons I still don’t fully understand, we ended up in a goddamned RV in the middle of winter with two big dogs and basically frozen everything.

The dogs were afraid of the sounds associated with de-winterization. They took refuge on my lap.

Ice Station Zebra was clearly not a viable solution for any of us. It was important that we experience it firsthand to know that area, while beautiful, isn’t the right spot. We both wanted to be in the warm sunshine so we made plans to head back to Arizona. Finding suitable housing close to human and canine recreation spots was super simple. The extreme difference in level of difficulty just reinforced my opinion that this was the right move. I couldn’t get loaded up fast enough.

The morning we (finally) left Idaho, I was dragged to the ground *hard* by my dogs bolting out of the RV to fight an obese chocolate lab. Because rural people still do not believe in confining their dogs. Thanks a lot, dicks. It wouldn’t be a road trip without a mechanical delay so we spent an extra night in Green River, Utah waiting for a new serpentine belt and roller for the truck. Under normal circumstances, I would have wanted to stop near Moab for some hiking but I was seriously so done with all of this shit that we just powered through the rest of the drive.

We arrived in Tucson late on February 24, making it a 40-day trip covering more than 3,000 miles. Both dogs immediately pooped in the bark park and suddenly all was right with the world once again.

Click the links below to see how we got to this point.

Returning to the US: Who Doesn’t Love a 1,000 Mile Detour?

Returning to the US: Motocross Heaven and the Tow of Shame

Returning to the US: He Literally Thought I Was Dead

Returning to the US: Sherman, I Just Really Need You to Poop

Returning to the US: Leaving Todos Santos

Returning to the US: First the Why

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