The Family Dog: Seamus

By the time they got to the Red Dragon, my parents were pretty skilled in the art of naming the new dog. Actually, the adorable little Cocker Spaniel/ Poodle, or Cockapoo, isn’t really named, or nicknamed, the Red Dragon. No one has ever called him the Red Dragon. I just came up with that nickname right now and it accounts for the hue of his coat and juxtaposes to his stature nicely, so into the family nomenclature it goes. They had gone through Gertie (great name, horrible animal) Caser P. Casers a.k.a. Casey (Not sure where the name came from and Casey wasn’t around long enough to ask him) and Abby/Flabby/Flabicus Maximus. So when Seamus came to live with them, they had honed their naming skills to the point where the next dog would probably have a doozy of a moniker.

Enter the Dragon (I seriously just came up with that name. I’m pretty clever when I want to be). Seamus’ name didn’t start out as Seamus. Originally his name was Chief, conjured up by my nephew. Da’s contribution was adding Chief Osceola, or Ole for short. Chief Osceola, if you don’t know and why on earth would you, is the name of the Seminole Indian chief who led a resistance against President Andrew Jackson’s troops during the Trail of Tears debacle of the mid-19th Century. Da’s always been kind of strange like that. He has a knack for choosing some really original name that unfortunately has some tragic history behind it.  I mean seriously, I’m named Andrew Jackson Sigler. Great name, for sure, and it sounds awesome at high school and college graduations. And as far as presidents go, you could do a lot worse (I mean imagine Millard Filmore Sigler or Richard Nixon Sigler. Not quite the same “pop”). His nickname was Old Hickory and he was truly the first “common man” president and all that. The guy is on the 20. And he was also on the business end of the same Trail of Tears.  If you don’t know about the Trail of Tears, and again why would you, I’ll spare you all of the gory details, but it involved a lot of Cherokee Indians having to walk a very long way in the snow and Ol’ Hickory was behind the whole thing. But it was a good name nonetheless and again, it fit this adorable little Ewok perfectly (if you don’t know what an Ewok is, I’m sorry and look it up). Then I opened my stupid mouth.

One day, shortly after Seamus had come to live with my parents, I casually mentioned some of the dog names I had been tossing around. I said to my dear sweet old Irish Mam that I had pretty much decided that at some point in my life, I was definitely going to name a dog Seamus. I swear by father God and sonny Jesus, that back-stabbing little weasel that posed as my mother gave me the most diabolical look. It wasn’t a look that said “Oh, I forgot about that name! I love that name!” No. It was a look that said “I like that name and I am going to use it. And despite the fact that you came up with it, you can’t have another dog now because you already have one and I gave you life you little snot and I have put up with quite enough at your hands to take your name and not feel one shred of guilt about it. ‘Kay?”

Here’s where the really creative juices get to flowing and I do have to give her credit, because she took the name Seamus and freakin’ ran with it. Her maiden name is O’Malley, so it makes some degree of sense that she would name him Seamus O’Malley. Good, strong, Irish name.  But she didn’t stop there. His full name is Seamus O’Malley McGintis McGee Buttercup Riley O’Doul.

My mother worked her way up to being the executive director of the Greater Omaha Association for Retarded Citizens before she retired. Also before she retired, she remade the organization that she would rename The Ollie Webb Center, an advocate for adults with all manner of developmental disabilities, not just Down Syndrome. In her professional career, she started out as a substitute special education teacher to being retired and just completing a book about her experience being the mother of my sister who has Autism (you can read more about and by my sister at the posting entitled Our Gene Pool Needs a Lifeguard), a book which she is publishing herself. It took less than a year of her being completely retired from working (her last gig was working part-time as an assistant to her good friend who was college counselor at a girl’s high school) for her to finish the book. Really, now that I am thinking about it, being my mother and all the good times that has brought (read Him, Him Revisited, and many of the other posts on this blog to read about my parties with alcoholism, rehab, brain surgery, meningitis, or some combination of all of these and all of the fun that has brought to my family). Not to mention my brother, who, comparatively anyway, has had a fairly brighter history than myself but also has a few skeletons in his closet.

Shit. The more I think about, if the worst that can be said of her is she stole the dog’s name from me… well you get the idea. Anyway, I come over to their house pretty frequently and he has this incredibly cool thing he does where he leaps up about a foot shy of the first of three steps that come down to the laundry area in front of our back door and he Superman’s down to come meet me at the back door. I’ve tried about 20 times to catch a photo of it on my phone to share on Facebook and one day I’ll get the shot.

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Our gene pool needs a lifeguard

If you follow this blog regularly, you probably have ascertained that my family is pretty important to me (if you don’t follow me regularly, seriously, what’s your problem?) I don’t know who coined the line “Our gene pool needs a lifeguard”, but at some point over the years, it became one of my Mom’s family’s favorite sayings. As you will soon learn, my sister has had her own row to hoe with Autism Spectrum Disorder. My cousins have had their own batch of ailments, and my mom’s big brother Duffy was stricken with polio as a kid. Still and all, his sheer will and determination to overcome his condition has truly made him my hero (there, happy Duff?)

 

The following is an email sent from Duff to my Mom and Dad about an email he received from my sister. As will soon become very apparent, my sister sees the world through a unique and often confusing (at least to you and me, I’m sure it probably makes perfect sense to her) perspective. This was written in the wake of me deciding to drop out of the Vet Tech program at a local community college. Again, as you will see, somewhere in my sister’s chaotic mind resides a compassionate nun, a drill sergeant, and motivational speaker. And, I assure you, the choice of punctuation, spacing, paragraph breaks and spelling is completely un-doctored. This is all Liz. Enjoy! :

Duff’s message:

This email from Liz is one you should read.  It is especially funny in a
couple of places and especially touching in a couple of others.  I was also
pleased to see that her self-image is soundly intact.

I’m sorry Andy couldn’t succeed at IWCC.  I hope he’ll have more success at
Metro and even more importantly I hope that he doesn’t give up.  Remind him
how I’ve met life’s challenges, such as overcoming the shame I feel when I
look in the mirror and remember that I’m Denny O’Malley’s brother.  My can-do attitude usually inspires the shit out of people.

Love your brother/in-law (this being the format of closing Liz still reverts
to sporadically),

—–Original Message—–
From: Liz Sigler
Sent: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 10:54 PM
To: Barb O’Malley; Duff O’Malley
Subject: my conference was great

Duff and Barb,
My conference was great on the 11th through the 13th in Kearney, Nebraska,
and I went down on the 11th and it was great. I went swimming at the Holiday
Inn where I stayed, and it was great, and to dinner. Saturday was
presentations all day, and I went to one on autism, which falls into what I
have, as you know and it was interesting. Saturday night was the banquet,
and music and dancing the rest of the night, and I went swimming for part of
the night also, and it was great. Sunday, was the meeting on chapter reports
and bylaws. The chapter reports were read by all cities of Nebraska, and I
read the chapter report for Omaha. The bylaws were read, and will see if
they pass or will be passed also, as bylaws is a huge thing whether they
will pass, or have passed when it comes to whether they pass, or haven’t
passed, or didn’t pass, and I know how bylaws are about passing, or didn’t
pass, as bylaws make a huge difference on passing. The presentation that was
to be given on personal stories and a video what self advocacy means, wasn’t
presented, since no one was prepared to give it, and most of the year my
self advocacy group worked on this video and personal stories what self
advocacy means to present it, and I don’t know it will be presented at
another conference when everyone is more prepared and has more time to get
it all together to present, or if we’ll try and have an inservice training
on this, and see what happens, and will see if an inservice training
happens, and what happens with this presentation that didn’t get presented
if it even will, or at an inservice training, and will see what happens with
it. If there is an inservice training, I’ll see what will be happening at
it, or what is being done there at it. I came back Sunday afternoon the
13th, and it was great.

Otherwise working, bowling weekly, mentoring with Creighton college
buddies, Honey Sunday on and after November 3, and if you would like one or
more, let me know, and I’ll get yours to you over the holiday, when I get
everyone else’s to them, Creighton games into November, six Wednesdays away
from seeing neurology, and see if I get off the Phenobarbetal, Wednesday,
December 4, which is the Wednesday after Thanksgiving and the first
Wednesday of December I see neurology, and all other things happening as
always! Andy’s school plans have changed recently I heard. School didn’t
work too well for Andy because of the brain injury and short term memory,
and it’s too hard for him, in some parts of the brain that can’t function on
studying, and he’s going to take a class at Metro, and he’s going towards
being a veterinarian’s assistant, and will see how Metro works out for him.
I told him that just because he had the brain injury from the illness that
it  doesn’t mean he can’t succeed and accomplish in anything, and he can
succeed and accomplish things like I can the same, like me, and like
everyone else. I told him to look at the things he succeeded and
accomplished before and after the illness; before the illness he wrote great
articles in the Reader paper that everyone thought were great articles,
after the illness since it’s been 8 1/2 years, he tried school and it didn’t
work. Taking this class at Metro may work better for him, and I told him to
keep trying, and to not give up, and you never know what you will succeed
and accomplish, and he has accomplished and succeeded in more things than he
thinks. I told him that just because I have autism and the language disorder
of Pervasive Developmental Disorder, doesn’t mean I can’t accomplish and
succeed in anything. I’ve served on boards, I have earned awards, I have
read chapter reports, I have given presentations, I tried teaching nursing
home  residents at a nursing home how to use email and earned letters from
all over the United States when I earned my gold award when you were at my
ceremony of it in 1998, I wrote essays for a book and had no idea I would
have written a book, and it turns out I wrote a book, and all the things I
have accomplished and succeeded and what I can succeed and accomplish, since
I’m bright, smart, and intelligent like he is, and I know he can do the same
like me and everyone else of keep trying and see what you succeed and
accomplish, and he said I had some wise words to say, and will see how
this other alternative works since school at Iowa Western didn’t work that
well for him. He let everyone know on facebook that he gave up school, and
everyone gave him comments that he tried school and it didn’t work, and at
least he tried, and a lot of it is caused by the short term memory and brain
injury from the illness, and the brain is different, and it doesn’t
function the way it had before he was sick. He was always great in high
school and college, and his grades were always great! I’ll let you know how
things are mentoring with Creighton college buddies, Creighton games, Honey
Sunday, if Metro is any better for Andy, how I did in bowling, and how all
other things are, and if I know anything with Liz or Kath I’ll let you know
also. I haven’t talked to Liz at all in the past couple months or have heard
from her either, and Kath I talk and have talked to often, and she’s been
well when I talk and have talked to her, and wanted to let you know how my
conference was, and how things are, and Andy’s plans with school have
changed, and will see how it works for him and see if it works any better. I
hope the grandkids and the kids are all well like always, and with school
and all their activities, and watching the grandkids at times.
Love,
Liz

Peaceful

Consider peace
Consider love
Know that you are not alone in this world
Everyone’s pain, everyone’s joy
All that they have, all that they know
Is yours, too.
Nevermind the circus
Stay ignorant of hate
Abandon your needs and your wants
Everyone’s got’em buddy
And today may not be your day
Be true to the truth
And make your mark
And try to help others make theirs
Nevermind the circus
And for God’s sake, Laugh!
Be a kid
And know when to stop
Be everything you want others to be
Smile for no reason
Trust me
It won’t go unnoticed.
Now,
I feel better,
You?

Gold-Plated Sword

I stood at one end of a great hall from out of Greco-Roman folklore. The ceiling of the hall was all sapphire and came to a crest at the top. All along the walls were small alcoves, each with a torch on the wall illuminating the marble statues of Zeus and Poseidon, Mars and Apollo. At the end of the great room in which I stood, a massive statue of Venus stood behind me. At the other end of the hall, He slouched against a much smaller statue of Hera.
From the brass scabbard that hung from my belt and tied around my calf I pulled my sword. A gold leaf branch entwined around my hand and the hilt and came up to the blade. A 3-foot-long, double-sided blade that was broad and thick and came to a razor-sharp tip. He had slung a frayed rope around His sack cloth garment and from the rope hung His weapon. Where my sword was all elegance and craftsmanship, His was short, rusty and jagged. But no less lethal. I paced steadily towards the center of the hall and He mirrored my action. I stopped as we were a few feet each other.
“So?” He said and drank wine from a bottle in a pale brown sleeve.
“A truce,” I said. He immediately erupted in His rasping cackle, spewing wine all over His chest.

“Now, now, friend. You know that that isn’t going to happen,” He said and ran the back of His hand over His beard. I remained steady, but crossed my hand over to the sword and pulled it a few inches from the scabbard. Engraved at the base of the blade were names. The names of every friend and enemy, every girlfriend and mentor, every relative and nemesis I had had in my life written in Western calligraphy. He drank from His bottle again and didn’t touch His blade. He knew He didn’t have to.
“Please,” I said. “I’m without a battle to fight, nowhere to swing my sword. Without goal, without purpose, I’m wandering. I just need you to back off for awhile until I get my footing again.”
His lips curled back in a sinister scowl and He spoke through clenched jaws as His hand curled around the pommel of His sword. “And I’m telling you that’s precisely what I need. Boredom makes for a powerful ally when dealing with peons like you.”
In a flash, I drew my sword and brought it down hard. Anticipating, he brought his blade up and our weapons clashed and held in front of our noses. Both grunting as we struggled to force the other to his knees, I looked Him directly in the eyes. He glared back. Pushing our gridlock back towards me, He began pushing me into a kneeling position. I changed tactics and somersaulted past Him and came up on His other side. When I turned, sword at the ready, He had taken to one knee and held His blade to Kilgore’s neck.
“Don’t worry, I won’t hurt him,” He said as He dragged the jagged blade along the white patch of fur among the black on Kilgore’s neck. “It’s you I want. He would just be a parting gift,” He said and released the dog who flocked to me. Kilgore shook off His grip and sat at my feet. Meanwhile, He slid His blade back behind the rope belt and picked up His bottle. Our eyes met and I shot Him a look so crippling, so shriveling that He cowered.

 

“I am stronger than you, and I will end you if you push me too far, the look said.

 

“I make no promises. None,” He said, but then slunk back in the direction of the end of the hall. As He slowly vanished, I knew I wouldn’t see Him again for at least a little while.
“C’mon, K-Man,” as I sheathed my sword. “Let’s get you back to your Elysian fields. There’s other dogs I need you to show the ropes. Sort of friends of friends.”

In Love with a Stranger

I will always love you

I have never met you

I want to get lost in your eyes

Are they blue, brown, pale

Are they mine?

Are you real?

Photos of old girlfriends

Photos of me

Photos of all the places we will go back to

When I find you

When I know your name

When we’ve spoken of all the things we’ve done

And the things we will do, together

When we meet

I have a sad story

To give you strength

Because you are not me

No one has ever been me

I’m used to being alone

Though I have never been alone

I have never wanted you more than I did today

Someone to smile at me, to love me

Like no one ever has or ever will

I have to believe in you, like I believe in myself

That part came easy, you just never stop

Feeling your way through life

Until the day I find you

What a glorious day that will be

When I finally find you

How Did This Happen?

It seems like in the past few weeks, there has been so much attention in the media, both social and mainstream, given to negative energy, negative vibes, negative comments, negative everything. Members of Congress hate each other with a passion insurmountable and will do anything to bring down the government in the name if their principles, paychecks be damned. Bill Maher spotlights instances of people casting about willy nilly hateful remarks about Betty White, of all people. A friend posted something today on Facebook about how some, in his words, “fuck muppet” (Oh how I wish I could take credit for that one)  prescribed how best to emasculate and degrade an anti-war activist. An author and public figure I follow referred to how he only gets negative correspondence from people who used to love his work but swear off anything he does in the future because of a comment he made on his blog. What’s worse is so many of these haters want YOU to know they don’t like something YOU said and now think YOU’RE the anti-Christ. And so it goes.

 

How did this happen?  Possible culprits:

 

Social media: The utter availability for one’s opinion to be spewed out into the world via a nominal graphic design tool or a comment on a FB thread. I can only project here, but it seems to provide a person with some sense of accomplishment or validation if somehow, someway, their cherished opinion is vomited out into the ether. But really, that was invented when the first guy stuck his middle finger out at a fellow motorist.

 

The fast-paced nature of our society: Now, you can post something on a blog or a thread or a message board and receive the instant gratification of that and proceed to go about your day. No one at the parent-teacher conference or in your golf foursome or your own neighbor has to know how much animosity, hate and fear bubbles up in your heart, but by god, everybody who you will never meet that commented in the thread sponsored by the comic you “follow” will know exactly how you feel.

 

Disjointedness: We are so busy putting on the hat we wear in all these situations, we lose track of our fundamental selves and who we truly are. Do I think most people are the persona that they put forth in all these venues in our lives? I don’t know, but I don’t think so. Tommy Lee Jones said it best: A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, reactive creatures and you know it (I’m paraphrasing, but that’s what he meant).

 

What compounds the problem, or maybe this is just a symptom, is the complete lack of respect we show anyone other than our immediate friends and family. “I have to encounter you face-to-face and therefore wouldn’t even think of insulting you the way I went after that bone-head on that message board today. But you may very well be that bone-head under a username, so watch your back.”

 

Maybe people have always been this way and I am just now realizing it as a jaded adult, but again, I seriously doubt it. Or maybe it’s the availability of so many different avenues that masks the fact that people have always been like this and it’s just that now we have to know about it. I seriously, vehemently hope not, or Rand Paul is right, the empire is doomed.

 

But given all of this, I offer one tactic that will change someone’s opinion today. I have posited this idea before, but today, I’m altering it a bit. I used to recommend doing one thing for another person even if they know it or not. Forget that.  Do one thing for another person and make sure they know about it. If you have some money, pay for the order of the car behind you at the drive-thru and tell the employee to make sure that that car knows about it. If you are at the DMV or somewhere else you have to “take a number”, find the person who looks the most disgruntled about the situation or looks like they’re in a hurry (look for the guy checking his watch more than once) and give him your number (that is, if you are ahead of him, otherwise that would be mean). If you are at the grocery store, and you somehow get the last of something and the woman next to you makes a motion like she wanted it too, give it to her.

 

I can tell you how this worked for me to make you a believer: When I was in college, I forced my parents to drive all over creation searching for a couple bean bag chairs for my dorm room. Do not ask me why, but at the time, getting those bean bag chairs was REALLY important to me. The next weekend, a few guys that lived on my floor that I had gone to high school with had a few other guys from their crowd come visit them in Chicago. One particular guy who was an arch-nemesis of mine from back in grade school got drunk and jumped on one of the chairs and popped it, sending the stuffing all over the room and ruining the chair. 10 years later, I was bartending at a restaurant and the same guy came in. I exchanged pleasantries with him. having long ago gotten over what a jerk he was (okay, I hadn’t  exactly “gotten over” it, but I accepted it for what it was). At the end of the night, the woman who had been his server came up to me and handed me two $20 bills and said “This is from that guy you were talking to earlier. He said to tell you it’s for the bean bags.” My mother and father would probably not be this forgiving of this guy, but for me, at that moment, I forgave him all the hurtful things he ever did to me.

 

That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about.  It doesn’t have to be today or tomorrow or by the end of the week. This isn’t a homework assignment. But do something for someone else you don’t know at all or very well or, and this is the one that takes more heart than I at least am able to muster on a regular basis, for someone you don’t  like at all, and make sure they know you did it. If nothing else, do it because it will reaffirm your belief that there are people like that out there, because you are one of those people.

Million Dollar Idea

One false move and I’ll intellectual copy write the hell outta this idea. Go ahead, try me.

So it’s a pretty simple idea, one of those ideas that I’m surprised nobody has tried yet. Actually, it’s entirely possible someone has tried it and it failed abysmally, but I, of course, would do it better. It’s called Dogopoly.  I’m not married to the name, but I can’t think of a better one now. I mean Dog (as in Life) would be too simple and, I don’t know, somehow too existential. Dogs and Ladders wouldn’t really fit with the possible vague undertones of animal abuse it could carry with it, not to mention the seaming discrimination it would carry for (or maybe it would be against) Dalmatians. Actually, most Dalmatians are so inbred they probably wouldn’t care, but their owners might, which would seriously effect profit margins among that crowd. Sorry, Dog! wouldn’t work as it would be based on the concept of dogs going back to Home, which is where most dogs really want to be anyway, and so completely defeat the purpose of the game. So we’ll go with Dogopoly for now until I come up with something better.

 
So y’know how there’s like a thousand different versions of the game Monopoly ? Actually, I just checked and there’s 150 or so, including Petopoly. Whatever. My idea would be cooler and here’s why…

 
Crap. I looked online further and there already is a Dogopoly. Well, popped that balloon, didn’t we? See the problem is, especially with the dog and cat industry, you have an idea, and chances are it’s already been done. Dogopoly is a great example. Alright, well, I’ll disclose another idea I have had, and this one I’m almost certain no one has done it yet. But here again, one of the names I came up with has already been taken, too. The name I thought of first was Bark Box. And there’s a service by that name you can order that delivers all kinds of dog treats to your door every month, like the Cheese of the Month Club from the movie Vacation. So I had another idea for a title: Leave It!

 

The problems I had were how would I market it and how elaborate should the design be. I was thinking is it would be an affordable but effective home security system. Imagine you are a single adult woman, or you have young children, or you have an especially rambunctious teen you would like to reign in. So you install Leave It! on your property (In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, Leave It! plays on the concept of teaching the command to a dog, but instead the home intruder would have to leave it because of Leave It! I know, I’m pretty clever when I want to be). It’s an apparatus of motion detectors and speakers. One would set up the motion detectors on one’s window frames and doorways and if an intruder decides to invade one’s property, when they set off the motion detector, the sound of a huge dog like a Dane or an Akita emanates from the speakers, thereby scaring the bejeezus out of anyone attempting to enter or exit. And I could sell various packages for Leave It!, from the single family home or duplex/townhome model, to a more elaborate network of detectors and speakers that would span a multi-acre property. Leave Its! could be set up all around the fence lines and gates and emit a variety of different sounds too. But you would have to stick to dogs only. I mean seriously, how many potential burglars are really going to believe it if they hear the sound of a lion or a cougar growling? It would be a great product to market at trade shows for the consumer that wants the security of their property being protected by vicious, bloodthirsty killers but without the trouble of feeding or cleaning up dog poop (And yes, I’ve checked and there are already people who market the service of cleaning up dog poop to those who don’t want to do it. See what I mean about the whole “it’s been done” central rule?)

 
And dig this. Even if you already have dogs like Terriers or Bichons or whatever, you could still install the Leave It! system because those guys have high-strung, turd dog yipping barks that scare absolutely no one. The problem with that, however, is it would seriously confuse the dogs and they would probably take out some drywall or wood framework attempting to get to the speakers emitting the barks. Or, God forbid, you already have a Dane or Akita but they are too old and/or lazy to put up much of fight, but the Leave It! system would definitely confuse them and probably cause some PTSD if used regularly over time. I mean, imagine you turned on your Leave It! system and left for the day and it’s a really windy day and a tree branch or something falls in such a way that it ends up propping up against a fence and activating the Leave It! system all day while you are at work. Not only could you very well induce shock in your dog and they could die, but you would also seriously piss off your neighbors and good luck explaining away that one at the Neighborhood Association meeting.

 
It has occurred to me that I could save myself the time and money I would invest in research and development on Leave It! and just come up with some crappy, “Made in Laos” model and market it to places like Spencer Gifts or Uncle Frumpy’s Party Supply, but I have scruples and don’t want to make my first million capitalizing on the gullibility of the consumer or the “gag gift” niche. Also, I have this vision of me manning my booth at the Global Pet Expo and, after blowing all my money on the 8×14 ft. Leave It! banner I would hang behind my corner booth (I mean let’s face it, if I am going to do this I should do it right so I would need to come up with that kind of money for the banner and corner booth given that this is not an essential item and I would need all the exposure I can get) and, after the first day of the trade show, I’ve received no interest at all in the Leave It! system and I end up at the Applebee’s across the street from the venue just completely leaping off the wagon with a strawberry daiquiri or a Busch Lite because that’s the only booze I can afford after the banner and the booth. So now I’m broke and drunk and penniless in Topeka and I have to pawn my IPod for bus fare home. So yeah, there’s still a few holes in my plan.

 
Now that I’m thinking about it, this is all academic anyway. Someone has probably come up with the idea and it’s already in the works or it’s on the market as I speak by another name. Maybe I’ll stick to trying this veterinary assistant gig. Seems like a safer bet.

An Old Friend

 

It was perfect fall weather. Well, perfect for me, anyway. In the middle of a sweltering, soul-crushing July day, I once stormed into my parents’ family room and asked them why in the hell they settled in Nebraska when northern Manitoba would be more in line with what our genetics might be able to handle. I drove to Memorial Park under gloomy fall skies that were just getting ready to drop rain on me. I parked my car at the side lot by the baseball field, set my Ipod to the Alice in Chains album, and went walking to the flower bed. It was the middle of the day, but there was still one guy walking his German shepherd through the park. I always have to resist bending over to pet a strange dog because they or their person might not be kosher with it and besides, they were on a walk and I didn’t want to disturb them. I certainly know how important walking your dog can be when you need to mull things over.

 

I cut across through the grass to the flower bed (Okay, full disclosure, I hadn’t been there for a while and so wasn’t entirely sure which flower bed it was where I scattered his ashes. See what I mean about memory problems? I mean good god, you’d think I’d remember where I buried my own damn dog). The winds were picking up by the time I got there and it had started to drizzle. The flowers were in the middle of their seasonal demise, but there was still plenty of dark yellow and red and green to create a nice backdrop for the moment.

 

“Hey man. So I made the decision about dumping the program. I just couldn’t bear it if somebody brought their dog in and I got so flustered by mundane stuff that I couldn’t focus enough to help them. I got emails from Dr. D and Christen and they totally understood why I was doing what I was doing and Christen even said I might be able to talk to her about where to go from here. I suppose, on some level I never quite could understand, I wanted to be able to know what ultimately brought you down and if there was anything I could do to prevent it.”

 

The wind really started blowing and it was raining pretty good by this time. I put my hood up and folded my hands in the front pocket of my hoody.

 

“I’m not sure what I’m gonna do now, but for the first time, I have the clarity of mind to know that I’m on the wrong path and I need to find the right one. I mean come on, I could barely wrap my head around science-related stuff before I got sick. All the rest of the stuff about restraint techniques and demeanor in a clinical environment and all that, I’ve got a pretty good handle on those things and I’m probably going to look into being a veterinary assistant. Christen said they are a pretty important part of the veterinary team, just without all the fossae and condyles and epicondyles and acetabulums [A.N. As my Medical Terminology book would say, if you want to know, look it up]. Anyway, I’m certainly not jumping ship, far from it. I guess I just decided that my place is more in the stern, not the bow. Jon and I are gonna get a place together. I told him last night we should think about getting a, whaddya call it, a Pomsky. It’s like a Siberian Husky but really small so we could comply with the silly-ass 20 pound rule of most landlords. Tellin’ ya, better living through breeding.”

 

The rain and the wind didn’t show signs of letting up, so I took out my Ipod and queued up “Rooster”.

 

“So that’s it. I just wanted to come tell you what’s going on. I miss you a lot. I even put one of the pictures Robin took of you as the backdrop on my blog, it’s such a good photo of you, the one where you’re coming at the camera head-on from that day you and Thunder were at the dog park. I’m
gonna go. I’ll come back and tell you where I’m going from here. You sit tight.”

 

I played the music and headed back to my car.

An Old Friend

It was perfect fall weather. Well, perfect for me, anyway. In the middle of a sweltering, soul-crushing July day, I once stormed into my parents’ family room and asked them why in the hell they settled in Nebraska when northern Manitoba would be more in line with what our genetics might be able to handle. I drove to Memorial Park under gloomy fall skies that were just getting ready to drop rain on me. I parked my car at the side lot by the baseball field, set my Ipod to the Alice in Chains album, and went walking to the flower bed. It was the middle of the day, but there was still one guy walking his German shepherd through the park. I always have to resist bending over to pet a strange dog because they or their person might not be kosher with it and besides, they were on a walk and I didn’t want to disturb them. I certainly know how important walking your dog can be when you need to mull things over.

 

I cut across through the grass to the flower bed (Okay, full disclosure, I hadn’t been there for a while and so wasn’t entirely sure which flower bed it was where I scattered his ashes. See what I mean about memory problems? I mean good god, you’d think I’d remember where I buried my own damn dog). The winds were picking up by the time I got there and it had started to drizzle. The flowers were in the middle of their seasonal demise, but there was still plenty of dark yellow and red and green to create a nice backdrop for the moment.

 

“Hey man. So I made the decision about dumping the program. I just couldn’t bear it if somebody brought their dog in and I got so flustered by mundane stuff that I couldn’t focus enough to help them. I got emails from Dr. D and Christen and they totally understood why I was doing what I was doing and Christen even said I might be able to talk to her about where to go from here. I suppose, on some level I never quite could understand, I wanted to be able to know what ultimately brought you down and if there was anything I could do to prevent it.”

 

The wind really started blowing and it was raining pretty good by this time. I put my hood up and folded my hands in the front pocket of my hoody.

 

“I’m not sure what I’m gonna do now, but for the first time, I have the clarity of mind to know that I’m on the wrong path and I need to find the right one. I mean come on, I could barely wrap my head around science-related stuff before I got sick. All the rest of the stuff about restraint techniques and demeanor in a clinical environment and all that, I’ve got a pretty good handle on those things and I’m probably going to look into being a veterinary assistant. Christen said they are a pretty important part of the veterinary team, just without all the fossae and condyles and epicondyles and acetabulums [A.N. As my Medical Terminology book would say, if you want to know, look it up]. Anyway, I’m certainly not jumping ship, far from it. I guess I just decided that my place is more in the stern, not the bow. Jon and I are gonna get a place together. I told him last night we should think about getting a, whaddya call it, a Pomsky. It’s like a Siberian Husky but really small so we could comply with the silly-ass 20 pound rule of most landlords. Tellin’ ya, better living through breeding.”

 

The rain and the wind didn’t show signs of letting up, so I took out my Ipod and queued up “Rooster”.

 

“So that’s it. I just wanted to come tell you what’s going on. I miss you a lot. I even put one of the pictures Robin took of you as the backdrop on my blog, it’s such a good photo of you, the one where you’re coming at the camera head-on from that day you and Thunder were at the dog park. I’m
gonna go. I’ll come back and tell you where I’m going from here. You sit tight.”

I played the music and headed back to my car.

Just a Ride

“Life is just a ride. It has its ups, it has its downs, But it’s just a ride.”

_ Bill Hicks

I was taking a shower this morning and suddenly, He was around my feet. He had come through the drain and slithered around the bathtub, coiling Himself around my legs. In an instant, He constricted and pulled my legs went out from under me. Within seconds, I could feel the slimy scales of his body around mine and he squeezed tighter, ever tighter. He had coiled himself around me and then we were face-to-face.

“I’m not afraid of you,” I said and meant not a word of it. “You have nothing to do with this.”

I have everything to do with this!” He said. “You are WEAK. You are STUPID. And you are DELUSIONAL! Did you REALLY think I was gonna let this happen.”

I struggled to free myself and He squeezed his slimy body tighter. He looped His head around mine and came up to my ear.

“What are you gonna do, Ahab. Huh? What are you gonna do now?” Breathing His foul breath into my face. “Let me end your anticipation. They say every alcoholic starts planning their relapse before they even know _”

“No!” My body was wet, so I was able to free myself from him. I struggled to get out of the bathtub but my foot couldn’t find purchase on the back of Him and I slipped and banged my head on the sink and fell to the floor. Blood trickled down my nose as He wound His way back up to me again.

“All those nice people out there who believed in you, told you you could do this? They were patronizing you. Nobody thought you could do this. You were the only one gullible enough to believe that. And now, you’re not going back to that school because you can’t do it.  So you might as well give up now. Hell, put off the relapse for a couple more months, get some crappy job you hate far away from all the cute and cuddlies you seem to like so much. That’ll start the ball rolling.”

He had coiled Himself into a kind of perch in the tub and His tongue zipped out and stroked my cheek. My tears wanted to come, but I halted them. Without even thinking about my next move, I grabbed the tongue, stuck it in my mouth, and bit down. He yelped and pulled His tongue away, but not before I had torn off one tine with my teeth. We sat there for a moment, both bleeding. Then I rose and wrapped a towel around my waist.

“I’m going to the gym, then I’ve got jobs to find. Better get some gauze on that tongue.”