This Thanksgiving weekend, more than most, I have spent really reflecting on the many, many things I have to be grateful for in light of the many, many trials and tribulations that humanity has been chugging through this past year. Mostly I am grateful for how my unconventional lifestyle has continued to work for me and allowed me to have ‘homes’ in places I could only dream of living with an abundance of dogs to love, and that my big problems have come with solutions.
Numerous bad choices, lack of long-term goals, and various mental health issues have kept me on the edge financially throughout my 20+ years of freelance work living in LA. After the panic attack and depression that started my journey to dealing with my mom’s 1985 suicide and The Silent Goldens documentary, I decided to pursue dog-sitting as a way of making some money while giving me time to work on the film on my computer wherever I was.
A word-of-mouth business started by caring for the dogs of those who used to care for my baby, Riggs, when I traveled for work. My schedule eventually became filled consistently enough that paying for an apartment I was never in became silly, so I gave it up. Over the past 2.5 years, I have secured ‘crash pads’ to use when there is a hole in my calendar, but other than that, I circulate typically in the North Hollywood area.
I continue to be amazed how the dates seem to work out for the most part, and new clients have been popping up the last few weeks. This year, a couple of regular clients moved into bigger and better places and, well, let’s just say the above panoramic picture was my view from the back porch all Thanksgiving week.
I am grateful not just for the work and the lovely places to stay, but also for the trust that my clients put in me. My dog was my everything and I know the animals I care for are loved the same way by their people, so I how big a deal entrusting their care can be, as well as allowing me to stay in their homes. I am proud to say that I deserve that trust, as I have no interest in snooping, stealing or otherwise taking advantage of the situation. It’s not in my nature, but also I appreciate the job and I want them to call again. So far, very very good. 🙂
In my April blog, When In Need, I Had a Friend Indeed, I expressed gratitude to my friend I call ‘Brigid’ and my father for their coordinated purchase of my Nissan Kicks after my 20-year-old, 207k mile Rav4 was taken out by a red-light-runner. Every time I get it in I feel thankful and know how lucky I am to have people that care so much about my safety and well-being that they would just flat-out give me such an enormous gift. As much as I loved my old car and mourned its loss, having a new one is a new lease on life in just knowing I have the freedom to “go” if I need to or want to.
I am extremely thankful I did not catch Covid and those I do know that had it did not develop the most extreme effects of it. The help from the government in making pandemic unemployment available to gig workers like myself was life-saving. My business went from booming to nothing starting March of 2020, as obviously people were in their own homes with their own pets, and the money I was counting on making to cover my life was suddenly gone. Getting that assistance allowed me to eat, get gas, pay my modest bills (no rent since I’m on the move) without having to dig into my coin bucket.
Business has started to pick up again over the last few months, and I’ve also been helping the clients that have moved organize, which is something I’ve always enjoyed doing – for others. Right now I have all of December booked! So I’m very happy and grateful for that.
So much gratitude also goes to all those who have donated to my documentary and continue to support me in my effort, which is now on track to have a finished version by Spring.
There are numerous other specific things I could list that I’ve noticed this year, but those are the big ones – money, housing, and transportation, the basics – that were covered and helped me feel grounded and safe throughout 2021.
And a special thanks to all who read this blog!!!