Same as it ever was

UnknownMeeting today was surprisingly productive, honestly.  I don’t have a lot to say about it other than that, but it was nice to go to an all-day teacher meeting and, other than introductions in the morning running a trifle longer than they needed to be, not feel like my time was being wasted at any point.  I think I’m going to like this job.

Also, the whole day was a constant whipsaw between “holy shit, nothing ever changes around here” and the odd feeling that by being gone two years I had missed out on everything changing.  At the same time.  Which was deeply weird.

Also, my day started at eight, and I’m tired as hell.  Morning coffee is going to go back to being a high priority for me, I think, after a couple of years of it not being especially essential.  Also returning to my daily lifestyle: my laptop bag, which as of today contains not only the Macbook Pro and iPad Pro I already owned but also a Chromebook.  Because I need to be a nerd across multiple operating systems, dammit!  But Google certification for my Clark Kent identity is in my near future, and I’ll be spending a lot of time screwing around with Chromebooks this year, so I figured I ought to pick up a relatively inexpensive one.  So: new hotness.  I will be The Master of The Googlez by the end of the month.

And then I got home and no dog greeted me at the door and everything was sad again.  It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes before I stop noticing she’s gone.

It is Sunday and I am not at work

IMG_7562We went to the zoo today.  I haven’t been to the zoo in two damn years, and I love our zoo.  I am probably going to have a sunburn on the top of my bald-ass head tomorrow and I feel good about it.

They have two peacocks; they just let them wander around.

A brief note about the dog, if you’ll indulge me again a bit: you may recall that while I was finishing up that piece yesterday the doorbell rang and I didn’t answer the door.  That wasn’t an invention for the piece; it actually happened.  My wife and son were out of the house for a little while and they got home just a few minutes later.

There was a vase of fresh flowers on our doorstep, delivered to us on behalf of our vet’s office.  The dog had been gone for maybe three hours.  Guys, if you live anywhere near me, and you have pets, you could do a lot worse than letting Clayview Animal Clinic take care of them.

Tomorrow should be an exciting day: I actually get to find out what my job is!  I’m not teaching this year, as you’re probably aware if you’ve been paying attention, and while I know the broad outlines of the new position it’s not necessarily immediately clear what I’ll be doing on a day-to-day basis.  For example: the first day of school?  I have absolutely no idea what I’ll be doing right now on the first day of school, or really even the first couple of weeks.  I mean, I’m on the administrative team in a school; there’s gonna be stuff to do if I decide I wanna do things (and I do,) but none of those things will be my job.  The next couple of days I’m in training for my specific position and I’ll be much clearer on what my day-to-day job is going to look like by the time it’s over.

So yeah.  I’m excited.

What’s your week looking like?

Snarf, 2004-2018



For reasons that aren’t really clear to me– I live my life online, and I write about goddamned everything— I don’t tend to write about it when my pets pass on.  When my wife and I got married in 2008, she had a cat and two dogs and I had two cats– our five pets were actually against county ordinances for the first several years we were married, until one of my cats died and we were down to a legal two cats and two dogs.  My author description on most of my books describes me as living with “an assortment of pets.”  Since I started this blog, we’ve lost Hector, one of our dogs, and Kashmir, one of our cats, who I know I wrote about a couple of times.  I did not mark either of their deaths with a post, and I don’t know why.

We had to let Snarf go this morning.  My cat (she is twenty years old, has lived with my wife for half of her life, and is still manifestly my cat) is now our only pet.  Snarf was nearly fifteen years old, a ripe old age for any dog but particularly so for a German Shepherd, a larger breed that most of the time doesn’t make it past twelve or thirteen.  She’d been on a slow decline for at least a couple of years now; I’d had a conversation with my mother as recently as last weekend about how much longer we were going to let things go.  If you know German Shepherds, you know they tend to have issues with their hips, and over the last couple of years it had been getting harder and harder for her to move around.  In addition, she’d gone stone cold deaf.  But she was still her, and like I told my mom when she asked, how do you get up in the morning and decide okay, today’s the day I kill my dog?  Today, and not tomorrow?  How the hell do you decide that, until it’s already past the time when you should have decided?

I dropped my son off at day care yesterday morning and spent most of the rest of the day in front of my PS4.  Around noon I realized that Snarf wasn’t in the room with me.  If I was home, Snarf was always in the same room with me, to the point where lately I’d been trying not to move around all that often because she’d force herself up and follow me around, even if I was just going to the bathroom or getting something from another room.

And I’d been home for three hours, and I hadn’t seen her yet. I actually thought right then that I was about to find my dog dead on the floor in my bedroom.  But no; she was alive, just a few steps slower than she’d been even the night before.  I don’t know what changed, but overnight she’d gotten worse.  Much worse.  She stayed in the bedroom almost all day.

She didn’t eat dinner last night, and she didn’t eat her breakfast this morning, and that was after my wife woke me up crying because she couldn’t get the dog to get up and go outside.  She’d made it to our bedside, where she slept every night, and that was as far as she wanted to go.

That’s how you know, I guess.

Our vet has been taking care of Snarf since she was a puppy– she’s actually known the dog for longer than I have– and she was nice enough to come in on her day off to take care of us.  And for the third time, I had to explain to my son that one of his pets was going to die– only this time, it was a complete surprise.  Kenny knew that she was getting old, of course, but she wasn’t sick in a way that a nearly-seven-year-old was going to really notice.  As far as he can remember, she’s never not been an older dog, and it was even harder than usual to explain why what was about to happen had to happen.

I’ve had, depending on how you count, somewhere between four and seven dogs that I could have called my dog, and two that I was actually personally responsible for.  Snarf was probably the smartest dog I ever had, and she was absolutely the best-trained of all of them.  She was loyal and friendly and scary as hell when she wanted to be and she was happy and she had fourteen good years with us and some months that maybe weren’t so good.

And as I’m writing this, the doorbell rings, and it’s not greeted with a chorus of dog barks, and that’s the moment when I lose it and start crying again.  I’m not answering the door.  Whoever is out there should have called first.  There’s supposed to be a dog there, telling them to stay away, until the moment I let them in the house, when they became safe and a friend.

She was a good dog.  I’ll miss her a lot.  Bye, babygirl.



In which I get what I asked for

85792b8c-ce6f-4e36-872e-f4ba2d8afdd8I realized after dropping the boy off at day care this morning that today was another “last time” sort of day– and that this time, having finally gotten my weekends back like I’ve wanted for two years, I was about to experience my last Day Off To Myself.  I am willing to embrace this small bit of hypocrisy; I want to both have my weekends off to spend them with my family and to have days off where I can do what I did today, which is laze about and play Dark Souls 3 all goddamn day, and by “all goddamn day” you need to understand that I mean all goddamn day.

I have been playing the hell out of the Dark Souls series lately– I own all three, or four, or five games in the family depending on where you slot Bloodborne and Nioh, and until beating Dark Souls Remastered several weeks ago the only one of them that I’d beaten was Nioh.  I took Bloodborne out last week sometime, beating it a full three years after buying it, and I’m replaying through DS3 right now.  I’m not at the point yet where I’m hitting bosses I couldn’t beat on my first playthrough, but I’m getting close.  After that I’ll play through Dark Souls 2 again and, hopefully, beat that as well, and then…

well, hell, that’s where my Future Planning about Vidya Gaemz runs out, but given that I don’t have all day Thursday and Friday to play video games any longer this plan is probably gonna be good at least until Thanksgiving.  Surely I’ll have something else I want to play by that time.

My wife and I have all sorts of plans for the next couple of days, ranging from general housekeeping sorts of stuff to a birthday party to a trip to the zoo.  I’ve got two full days of family stuff, and then two days of meetings for school.  At some point in there, I’ll be working on fiction stuff and readying at least one cool thing for the blog that got an early look over on Patreon.  Which you can see right now, if you like, for just a dollar a month.

#REVIEW: THE OUTSIDER, by Stephen King

9781501180989_p0_v4_s550x406I didn’t want to buy or read this book at first.  That’s not my normal approach with Stephen King; the man has written approximately 5000 books, but I have damn near all of them.  I can only bring two of his books to mind that I know exist and have not read yet: his novel about the Kennedy assassination, which rubbed me wrong from the beginning and which I never started, and the third of his three Finders Keepers books, which I cannot explain why I have not read yet.  I’m gonna get to it eventually!  I promise!

So, yeah: I’m a fan.  I have been a fan since I was, I dunno, however old I was when Misery came out and I found my grandmother’s copy when staying the night at her house and managed to read most of it before she realized what I was doing.  Honestly I don’t remember if anyone tried to stop me or not, but it wouldn’t have done any good if they had; nobody was ever any good at keeping books away from me.

But I didn’t want to read this book.  The main reason?  The premise, as explained by most of the pre-release stuff, is white dude is accused of heinous sexual assault, turns out to be innocent.  And if I’m being honest, white dude turns out to not be a sexual abuser after all! is not really something I’m super interested in reading about too much right now.  There are entirely too many white men getting away with sexual assault and rape right now– some of them being elected fucking president, no less– just put me off the book for several weeks.  My wife read it in the meantime, and told me to go ahead and read it anyway, and I did.

Which was the right call, because once I started The Outsider I had the damn thing finished in two days– a hundred pages the first night, another hundred the second, and then I picked it up when I got home from work yesterday and didn’t put it down until I was done with it.  And it’s a big damn book.  Stephen King, after all.  The reason I wrote such a short post last night?  I got caught up in reading and didn’t want to put the book down to write a post.

So, a couple of things: this is King’s darkest work in years, if not in his career, to the point where I’m not even sure right now what I’d suggest its closest competition is.  The book begins with a man being arrested for an absolutely heinous act of rape, sexual torture, and murder, and despite his innocence being such a plot point that I can’t even honestly call it a spoiler to mention it, the book keeps you wondering what the fuck is going on anyway, and then at about the 200-page mark it throws a massive curveball at you and runs off to be an entirely different book than the police procedural you thought you started with.  And even before that curveball, King does an outstanding job of whipsawing you back and forth between this man is absolutely guilty and this man cannot possibly be guilty, sometimes in the same chapter, and the cops don’t always make great decisions on how to prosecute the case and when the book finally does tie everything together and explain what’s going on I feel like it earned its ending in a way a lot of books– including a handful of other King books– really don’t.

This is also his scariest book in a long, long time.  I will admit that being the father of a young son didn’t exactly help me with that, and if you aren’t a parent your mileage may vary a bit.

One gripe, though: I have always thought that one of Stephen King’s greatest gifts as an author was his ear for voice and for dialogue, which makes it weird that this book has such really weak dialogue throughout.  There are so, so many sentences in this book that no human being has ever uttered before and never will.  He does this thing at the end where he sort of thanks the people of Oklahoma and says that if he got anything wrong, he’s sorry?  And I feel like maybe he’s doing this weird thing where he’s trying to capture something he thinks is Oklahoma Folksy and instead he’s landing on Abraham Simpson:

This is especially bad in the earliest parts of the book, where a fair part of the text is interview transcripts, meaning that they’re nothing but dialogue and people telling stories.  The various cops in the book generally aren’t prone to rambling, but any time someone else is talking– again, especially in that early part?  God.

But yeah.  If you can push past that one rather notable weakness, this is excellent King and a great recovery from Sleeping Beauties, which I didn’t really like much at first and has not climbed in my estimation since then.