My New Normal: Part One

Now that the holiday season is over and the dust has settled from moving, my new normal has arrived. Routines are still evolving and will change somewhat with the seasons, of course. But the outlines and patterns are clear.

Whether I have to work or not, I’m almost always up by 5:30. In the past, I blamed my early waking on my ex getting up to go to the gym. I still say it’s his fault I developed the habit, though in truth, I’ve been an early riser for decades. Toodles waits in the bed, wagging her tail, while I stumble into the bathroom to weigh myself and throw on some clothes. She doesn’t have a choice–she’s too little to even think about jumping down.

I put her down and she leads the way down the hall. Our paths diverge as she takes the shorter route through the living room while I go through the kitchen, pushing the button to start the coffee brewing on my way to the back door where Toodles waits. We go out–she won’t go off the patio unless I walk out with her–and within about three minutes, she’s done her business and is ready to go back inside. Then we go to the front door so I can get the newspaper. She stands guard at the door, watching to make sure nothing attacks me. Okay, she’s more likely making sure I don’t go off and leave her. She barks a good game but when push comes to shove, she’s a runner not a fighter.

With Toodles between my legs, I spend the next hour in my recliner drinking coffee, halfway watching news on television, as I check email and an ever-expanding number of web sites (Facebook, Twitter, Dreamspinner Press, Novelrank, Goodreads, Triberr, Amazon, my blog dashboard, and several blogs I follow), read the local newspaper, and update my finances on Quicken. Around 6:30 I move to the back of the house and listen to news from the liberal elite on NPR as I make the bed and get ready for work. Toodles stays on the recliner–about the only time she’s not within arm’s reach, leading me to believe she might be Republican. I’d care more if she could vote.

I weigh myself again, before and after my shower, and if it’s weigh-in day, make a mental note to record the lowest of as many as eight morning readings.  You know me, I’m all about accuracy. Whether my weight is up or down and by how much has a big influence on my plans for any given day.  If it’s up, I’m going to really watch what I eat and, as my schedule allows, increase my activity level. Hitting a new low has the same affect. Holding steady is a license to eat crap food if I want. The big surprise is how seldom I do.  Since I moved, I’ve yet to order pizza or Chinese for delivery.

Breakfast is the same most days. Greek yogurt with fresh berries, vitamins, and a delicious glass of Metamucil. Before you scream TMI, the tasty beverage was added at the insistence of my doctor after a close call with cancer, discovered with that 50th birthday present: the colonoscopic exam. Okay. Now you can scream.

I keep my prescriptions (a statin and an antidepressant that I only take in the winter) next to my vitamins. I’m supposed to take them in the evening, and I have a hard time remembering if I’ve done so or not. No telling how many doses I’ve missed because I was afraid I’d already taken them. So now I flip the bottles upside down in the morning, righting them when I’ve taken the pills. Isn’t that smart?

Most mornings I have another half hour or so before I need to leave for work. I’ll pick up, maybe run the vacuum cleaner, and otherwise spruce things up around the house. I’m obsessive about clean floors. Don’t ask me where it comes from. I can have crap piled up to the ceiling but my floors are going to shine and be completely free of lint, dust, dog hair, and grass tracked in from outside.

Once upon a time, I had another ten or fifteen minutes to watch the gossip that passes for news on the networks. But now, if I sit back down in my recliner, instead of jumping up and taking her spot between my legs, Toodles positions herself between me and the television and raises holy hell, stomping her front paws and giving me every bark, growl, and yip in her arsenal. This continues, unabated, until I get up and follow her down the hall to my walk-in closet.

That’s where her kennel is, and where she stays when I’m not home so I don’t have to worry about what she’s doing when I’m not here. By the time I get to the closet, she’s already in her kennel, sitting on her doggie bed looking at me with that happy look she gets when she knows it’s time for a treat. The training guides say you’re eventually supposed to phase out the treats, but what do they know?

Right or wrong, I’m going to do it my way–as long as Toodles lets me. If she rules the roost, it’s because I let her. I can, because I am, after all is said and done, a grown-assed man.