Dogpoet is a grumpy old man, and when he refers to himself in the third person, you know it’s serious. He hasn’t been writing, he hasn’t been sleeping, he hasn’t been having fun. Grrrrrrr.

This translates into free-floating anger, usually targeted at the wrong audience. Well-meaning friends and co-workers, for example. In other words, the very people he needs to get through his Days of Thunder.

I’d love to present you with something a little more creative than this, but fuck it.

It occurred to me (again) last night as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep, while on the other side of the thin pocket doors my roommate watched TV in the living room and laughed, as every overhead light in the room burned brightly, stealing under and through the cracks between door and floor, that I have a little problem with boundaries. Meaning, I tend to let people walk all over me in their dirty cleats while I burn with self-righteous indignity and curse their names, and expect them to read my mind. This happens at work, too. I have one of those jobs whose description ends with “…and other duties as assigned”, meaning I do a little of everything, usually the stuff no one else wants to do. Like fixing the copier or attending a never-ending succession of weekly “Safety Committee” meetings. Who the hell wants to be on the Safety Committee? Not me, mister. I want to be on the Uncalculated Risk Committee.

Don’t get me wrong, I get plenty of praise. I’m revered as a sort of Administrative Deity, able to produce efficient and superior products in record-breaking time. But praise has its limits. And I can hardly demand that they put their money where their mouth is, working for a non-profit in a struggling economy. And the perks are hard to beat. Louie under my desk, flexible scheduling, Internet access.

In my social life my weak boundaries have been taking their toll, too. Recently my AA sponsor celebrated five years of sobriety, and there were lots of hints from all sorts of people that he wanted a party thrown for him. Since he has four other sponsees and numerous friends, and since I’ve said here before that I’m not particularly gifted in event planning, I figured I’d help out in whatever way I could. Well, the days ticked by and the hints became stronger and stronger and eventually, because no one else was stepping up to the plate, I organized the damn thing. Yeah, it got me out of my head, and yeah, everyone said it was beautiful and moving (even the invites I made were deemed frame-worthy) and yeah, I wouldn’t trade the experience, but I went into it with a pile of resentments and came out barely lighter. Especially when everyone took off and left me with the dishes.

I suppose you could say I’m having a little problem giving to others unconditionally lately. Yeah, I’m a child of an alcoholic. Yeah, caretaking is second nature to me. Yeah, I want to believe that I can lose my worries by helping others. But I need to set up some boundaries, no?

Okay, okay, it was a little spineless to leave a note. But it was simply a response note to my roommate’s note asking if I could please take out the trash tonight. “No problem!” I wrote, and “Would you mind if we limited watching television to no later than ten pm on weeknights? The sound and the lights come right through my door. If you’d like to move the television into your room, that’s fine, too.” Short, sweet, to the point. That it took me over a year to write, well, aren’t you being a little severe?