Suddenly I found myself gripped in a cleaning rage. It was Saturday morning, nearly 9:30. Skylar had planted himself on the floor to play with Louie and start a zoom meeting.

"What are you doing?" he mouthed at me, apparently having not muted himself.

I performed the international sign for "I can't live like this anymore!" This is done by gesturing wildly at everything while holding your eyes in an exasperated popping position.

Skylar stuck his head forward, his own eyes wide, and did that subtle head shake at me, which I understood, of course, meant "but do you have to do this right now?"

He was annoyed because I'm not capable of quiet cleaning, especially not while in full rage.

I hadn't intended any of this. I didn't wake up mad. But it all just hit me at once. Something that I guess had been building throughout the week without my noticing.

I was suffocating in my own damn house.

Somehow this puppy, this gentle soul that bites me constantly, has accumulated more worldly possessions in one week than the rest of us combined.

There are dog toys strewn across every floor in the house. Baby blankets cover most surfaces. Why does he need more than one!? We have baby gates blocking entrances to every room. Skylar has closed off the dining room entirely by running a 12-foot metal gate in front of it. I still don't know where the gate came from.

The kitchen counter is covered with puppy documents and bags of puppy food and cleaning supplies that are in near constant use because of the perpetual stream of urine and vomit coming from every hole in this canine's tiny body that shouldn't be big enough to produce so much waste.

Skylar waved his right hand at me, and then snapped his fingers a few times, just as I started washing the dishes in the sink. This, of course, meant: "do not wash the dishes! I will do those when I'm done with my meeting. You don't wash them well enough and then I just have to pull them back out of the cabinets and do them again and I can't always tell if I've gathered them all."

He's really a very efficient body language communicator. I've seen him give me entire life histories of people at parties just through his eyes as he stares at me from across the room. His ability to say "I'll tell you all about this guy in the car on the way home but trust me, it's juicy" by doing nothing other than blink is probably the most romantic thing about him.

I finished the dishes anyway and then began gathering the coats and jackets we had left all over the house because we've apparently become too exhausted recently to put things away. We have so many coats and jackets! Why do we need more than one?!

Skylar tapped his foot rapidly when he saw me walking away with his favorite blue fleece zip-up. I tossed it to him. He caught it and threw it back onto the chair where I had originally found it. He takes Louie outside about every 30 minutes and so he wanted that one handy.

I scrubbed and organized and threw things out that a week ago I would have demanded we save. And just as I was finishing up my janitorial duties, Skylar finished his call.

"Everything alright there, buddy?"

"I'm just suffocating in this house!"

Skylar sighed. "We're all tired," he told me.

Then he stood up. A look of genuine care came over his face. "Honey," he said softly. "You do a lot of things very well. But cleaning is not one of them."

I was then sent out of the room so he could pull out the dishes I had washed and so he could wash them again.

Please enjoy some Strangerville:

This time in Strangerville, Eli almost went to prison once, never ask Meg to translate a talk in Latvian on the spot, and a reporter struggles to understand southern accents.


Buffalo, by Frank Smith (music by Lobo Loco)

Production by Eli McCann & Meg Walter

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~It Just Gets Stranger