31 March 2013

This time tomorrow we'll be in Las Vegas, probably trying to convince ourselves that it's not possible for us to have a kid who will be turning 30 in an hour. We'll see a couple of Cirque du Soleil shows while we're there, walk a lot, eat too much, and I might even have a drink or two. The cats aren't going to miss us one bit because they get the Grandma while we're gone, so I won't be worrying about them...I might need to worry about how grumpy they'll be when we get home and she leaves.


26 March 2013

Since SCOTUS is hearing arguments about it today...

Here's the thing... if you're totally opposed to same-sex marriage, I get it. It doesn't set well with you, the same way as polygamy doesn't set quite right with me. That baffles me. I don't get it. The difference as I see it is that those who are gay do not choose to be gay; those who engage in polyamory (for lack of a better term) do. But the feeling...probably the same.

What I don't understand--and there's not a thing you could probably say to change my mind--is why you're also opposed to allowing civil marriages between same-sex couples. Every argument you make will probably boil down to religion; it violates your religious belief system, therefore you cannot fathom opining that it would be all right.

The problem as I see it? This is in no way a religious issue; no church ever should be required to perform same-sex marriages. Neither should they be required to perform marriages between a man and a woman, for whatever reason. A church should always be allowed to perform sacraments based upon their foundation of beliefs, as long as no children are harmed, no animals sacrificed, and binding covenants that are also civil agreements are made between consenting adults only.

I fully support your right to oppose same-sex unions within your religion. I would argue vehemently against it if the law were ever written to require it...because, you know, separation of church and state.

Something you might find surprising about me: as puzzling creepy as polygamy is to me, I don't think it's any of my business if three or four or even five consenting adults--and the key is consenting adults, not the little freak show of cults forcing little girls to marry old men--want to live together and cement that with a legal, civil, contract.

It's none of my business. And it doesn't change my 31-year-long heterosexual union one whit. Yes, I recoil at the idea that anyone would want to do that...but in the end, none of my business.

I don't think it's any of your business, either. If Jim and Jose down the street want to legalize their relationship, it doesn't affect me one way or the other. If Marge and Juliette want to get hitched, it doesn't make me any less married.

If Seth and Brianna want to live together and never get married...none of my business.


Not mine...found in lots of places online today...
Last night on the news, while they were covering the people assembling to protest/support the SCOTUS hearings on Prop 8 today and DOMA tomorrow, one of the women they interviewed said she was totally against gay marriage, because "the Bible says it's a man and a woman, and to be fruitful and multiply, and gay people can't do that. If they want a family they have to use other peoples' kids."

The absurdity of her statement didn't make me angry; it made me sad. It was a slap to the face of anyone who has ever adopted a child, who have found their soul mate too late in life to have a child, to couples who never wanted to procreate in the first place, and in a personal vein, to people who simply cannot conceive.

Should the Spouse Thingy and I stop being married because we only had the one kid, and there's no one in hell we'd even think about it now? Should we have separated when it was clear that we couldn't have another, especially once the Boy was out of the house? We're not going to be fruitful or multiply now. have your religious beliefs. Fine. But if you've ever used birth control, cheated on a spouse, gotten a divorce, had premarital or extra-martial sex, masturbated, gotten a tattoo, worn cotton and polyster together, never chucked stones at someone you knew had committed adultery, never sacrificed an animal, if you even once engaged in coitus during menses...well, you're already not doing a bang up job of following the Bible as it is.

And if you're already not doing a bang up job at being the Christian you think everyone else should denying other people the right to do a less than stellar job at being Christian, you're just being unkind.


I'm pretty sure he would err on the side of kindness.

It is perfectly reasonable to hold tight to your own moral code while allowing others to run rampant with theirs. It doesn't make you less of a Christian. I would argue that it makes you more of one; showing kindness and compassion always trumps over selfishness and hate, even if in the act of kindness you have to swallow something you find very bitter.

God will sort us all out in the end. And I'm pretty sure He would understand if you chose to not shove your beliefs down someone else's throat and instead simply led by example.


23 March 2013

Yanked from Cheryl Lincoln on Facebook
The Cat Who Came Before Max, Dusty, was a lot like him: often grumpy, somewhat standoffish at times, but loved my lap, loved to wedge between the Spouse Thingy and I, and she had her place on the bed; she would jump up there in the middle of the night and land with a thud that shook the mattress, and she plopped down right next to my feet.

Unlike Max, she was less attached to me as she was to all of us, including Hank. When we brought him home--just weeks after having to give up our first dog, Chip--I worried that the Golden Retriever puppy would freak her out to the nth degree, but she surprised me and decided he was her puppy. Her little boy.

Hank did not seem to mind, especially once he had grown a little and grasped that while he was big, Dusty was small, so it was best to not try to sit on her or toss her around like a rope toy. He curled up on his bed and patiently allowed her to groom his face. If she hissed at him, he understood that it was a lesson of some sort, and he paid attention.

Dusty was a pretty big presence for a cat.

Not too long after we moved back to the Travis AFB area from Grand Forks, she developed a cough and a wheeze, which turned out to be a congenital heart condition. We were devastated; it meant that our time with her was limited, and we had no idea how much time she had left. On some level, I think Hank knew, because more and more I found them napping close to each other. And that was about the time that Hanks started eating his own poop; we went nuts trying to figure out what his issue was, but looking back, I think it was just his way of coping with the stress of feeling Dusty's illness.

One thing we held onto was that most cats with Dusty's particular heart condition didn't live past six years old, and she was almost 12. We'd already had bonus years with her, though we had no way of knowing that. We still took it as a little bit of comfort; she was tough enough to double her life expectancy, so it gave us some hope that she would be around for long enough for us to be all right with her leaving.

She tolerated her treatments well; she was hauled to the vet at least every other week initially--including times when I panicked and took her in because her nose was whistling or she had the hiccups--and she never fought all the medications she had to endure. She did quite well; for the most part, it was difficult to tell she was sick at all. If not for the cardiac ultrasounds and chest x-rays she routinely had, it would have been easy to convince ourselves that she wasn't really that sick.

She did quite well for an entire year; we got through Christmas and New Years, and were well into January before she was obviously declining. Her weight dropped, she slowed down to a snail's pace, there were difficulties with potassium and keeping her head up; as January slid into February we all knew that we had, at most, a few more weeks with her.

And that hurt, but we had gotten to the point of being mostly all right with it. Or thought we had.

On February 8th, 2001 the Spouse Thingy and I had doctor's appointments--mine was really stupid, I had a giant wart on a toe that needed to be frozen off--and when we left she was napping on the bed.

When we got home, she woke up and very slowly made her way down the hall, and stopped in front of her water bowl. She looked at it like she was desperate to drink, but could not make herself. She sat there for a full minute, then turned around and headed back to the bedroom to curl up on the bed again.

We knew, even though we didn't want to admit it. The Spouse Thingy called the vet; we hoped that maybe he could just give her some water via IV or something, even though I think we both knew that was hoping against hope.

He did a routine chest x-ray, and determined that her chest was so filled with fluid that her lungs were pushing against her spine. She could barely breathe; he could give her Lasix via IV and try to push that fluid out, but...

We both shook our heads. She had fought hard for over a year; we weren't making her fight anymore. And the vet, while he agreed, had tears in his eyes as he gathered the paperwork we needed to sign.

For the entire year she had gone through treatment, our grumpy Dusty tolerated it like a champ. She put up with all the blood work, needles inserted into her bladder to get urine, the x-rays and the ultrasounds, all the poking and prodding, but this time, she'd had enough. After the vet shaved her forepaw to find a vein to give her a sedative, she began to fight back. She reared back, hissed and growled...and then died.

Screw you, I'm going on my terms, not yours.

I never would have imagined that in the midst of such heartbreak, I would also feel pride and be so impressed. She really did go on her own terms, with a giant Fark You.

The thing is, I thought that year had given me time to be all right with the idea of losing her, but I wasn't anywhere near all right with it. It was two weeks before I could even go into the pet food aisle; Hank still needed to be fed, so the Spouse Thingy managed that for us.

Not too long after she died, I woke to the feeling of her jumping up on the bed and plopping down next to my feet. I blew it off, thinking Hank had walked past and bumped the bed. It kept happening, even when Hank was nowhere around the bed.

That October--in spite of my insistence that I never wanted another cat--Max arrived. He was a little wild man, a bundle of black and white energy, and he decided I was his. He jumped on the bed in the middle of the night as well, but never near my feet; he always jumped up near my head, and he never landed with the ceremonious thud Dusty had.

Every now and then, with Max curled up near my head and Hank fast asleep on the floor, I kept feeling that thud near my feet. There were also many nights when Max sat in the hallway talking to someone; he's always been a noisy pain in the butt at night, but there's a difference in his voice when he's singing out and when he's talking. Somewhere along the line it occurred to me that the nights he sat in the hallway deep in discussion with whomever, those were the night that later I would feel the thump at my feet.

One night I caught myself stirring from sleep and saying, "Hey, Dusty," when I felt the mattress give.

Awake, I rationalized it: there had to be something else going on. Maybe it was the bed itself, a wayward spring popping up and moving. Maybe it was something about the house we lived in, some weird little movement in the ground.

But we moved, and it continued. Through two bed replacements, it's continued.

Neither Max nor Buddah ever sleep in that spot.

I am not and will never be one of those people who think animals have no souls; I absolutely believe they do, pretty much to the point where I suspect that in the next life I will be apologizing to a bunch of animals whom I have consumed, and thanking them for the nourishment. I have no doubt that I'll be reunited with all the furballs I have loved, even the one we had to give up.

So I don't really have a problem with believing that Dusty could very well be paying me visits when she thinks I need her to. And I don't have a problem thinking that Max can sense her, and she's the one he talks to when he's vocal but not being obnoxious.

It doesn't happen nearly as often as it once did, and I admit it's could very well just be me, an occasional sleep quirk. But deep down? If there was a way, Dusty would definitely take a break from fun and games at the Bridge to curl up and take a nap at my feet. And whether she's really there or not, every time it happens now I at least mutter to myself, "Hey, Dusty."

It would be rude not to.


15 March 2013

I don't often get "fan mail," (for lack of a better term) but when I do it's usually for Max, and this is no different. Often it's funny as hell, sometimes stalker-scary, but once in a while I get mail that really gets to me. And this got to me.

Shared with permission, and by request, from one of Max's readers, Dana.

“I had to write to tell you, when I read the blurb on Amazon and it said the reader would cry until their nose ran, I thought it was just some Max-snark. I didn’t take it seriously. I bought it, and when it arrived my 10 year old son grabbed it and begged to be the first to read it. He loved the idea of a book written by a cat, and I had no reason to not allow it, because Max, even though he’s often inappropriate, is funny and not over the top.

That evening, when I went to get him from his room for dinner, I found him on his bed sobbing wildly. He could barely get the words out, but managed to tell me Max had talked about dying, and it made him cry because we lost our senior cat Bruiser just a few weeks ago. This is where I must admit, I was angry. I should have paid closer attention to the reviews, in which most stated they had cried. I should have read the book first because of it, but I just assumed Max would be funny through the whole thing.

The thing is, while I was busy getting mad, my son’s crying let up and he blurted out “Bruiser got to go to a place called the bridge! He’s having fun! He’s all right.”

My son believed this whole heartedly because Max told him so.

He has had such a hard time since losing Bruiser, because that cat had been here from the day he was born and they were best friends. We didn’t really know what to tell him about life after death for pets; I knew the Rainbow Bridge poem, but reading that to a 10 year old just didn’t have impact. Reading about your dog helped, but reading Max’s letter to Hershey was the exact Band Aid my son needed.

Until I read the book, too, I didn’t realize it was what I needed as well.
I admit, there were tears shed when working on the book. I never thought I would get choked up weeks later...


10 March 2013

What made me get up and leave Starbucks today, long before I had planned to:

Look, here's the thing. You have a business, say a store, and you need to hire a stockboy. Well, you get a guy in a wheelchair applying. This guy, he can’t reach. He can only get to maybe two shelves. He shouldn’t get paid what regular people do because he can’t do as much work. What’s why minimum wage is a mistake, because we need to be able to pay people what they’re worth. Disabled people aren’t worth minimum wage. Come on, this country wasn’t built on minimum wage, it was built into greatness before that became a law and we need to go back to it, like in the seventies. Pay people by the work they can do, not a number the law says we have to.

That is seriously as close to what actually spilled out of this guy’s mouth as I can quote. I left before I could no longer bite my tongue—and if I had stayed it would have gotten a colorful shade of ugly—but as I packed up my stuff he was going on about making waiters and waitresses work for tips only, because “that would make them more productive” and “no one deserves minimum wage AND tips.”

I wonder how he would feel going back to the labor force in pre-minimum wage days, when there was no Fair Labor Standards Act, and he would have been rolling those burritos for 60+ hours a week at the equivalent of about (I’m guessing) 75 cents an hour.

I’m also guessing he has no idea when minimum wage came about, because if you look back, the strides the U.S. made post-FDR were huge. From his “like the seventies” statement, he has no idea minimum wage was implemented in the 30s.

Hell, when I started working—in the seventies—minimum wage was $2.30/hr. If it had kept pace with inflation, it would now be $10.59 instead of $7.25 (national.) If it had kept pace with productivity, it would be $21.72.

Based on that I’m pretty sure we're already paying people less than what they’re worth. Even if they can’t reach the top shelf.

He better hope we don’t start paying wages based on I.Q. points.


9 March 2013

Back in January, I signed up for a Nike virtual 10K; instead of a run/walk event where you get up at Too-Fricking-Early to show up with a thousand other people to run or walk, this one is DIY. You run/walk, use the Nike running phone app or other Nike+ device to track your distance, synch your device or phone to Nike+ when you're done, and're done.

This appealed to my inner night owl. I wouldn't have to get up early, I could walk wherever the hell I wanted, and the frosting on the cupcake: it was to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

AND I could pick a day: March 9th or March 10th.

So I registered, paid my fee--and happily, because that's the money that goes to the charity--and waited for my even t-shirt. Because...t-shirt. I am a t-shirt whore.

In between signing up and today, the first day I could do the 10K, I got a new toy. And that new toy, when I'm not using the motor, is a hell of a lot harder than just walking. Even when I use the motor, I'm using my body enough that my heart rate goes higher than it does when I walk.

So I caved to my inner 8 year old and decided to do the 10K on the new Trikke.


I headed out this morning, and holy hell, the wind was blowing. I thought about waiting until tomorrow, but the odds of wind tomorrow are probably as high as they were for today, so I jumped on and headed out...and at the .15 mile mark started to think that maybe I would just go home and risk tomorrow being windy. Because carving that Trikke into the wind...not fun.

But then I got around the corner and had the wind at my back, and decided it was a hell of a lot of long as I could figure out a way to keep the wind at my back.

Yeah, that didn't happen. But once I was really going, getting into a rhythm with the Trikke, I figured I might as well keep going.

It felt a whole lot like cheating even though I was working harder, but I rode the Trikke for the 10K and didn't walk any of it...but really, I wasn't going for a 2nd chance slot in a marathon as some participants were today, so I didn't think it mattered. I just wanted to do something for the LLS and have fun while I was at it.

And I did.

This guarantees that tomorrow there will be no wind at all...I might have to go out again, just for the hell of it.


5 March 2013

This is why we can't have nice things...

I swear, Buddah intentionally waits for it to be wiped off, and then gets into the litter box, digs for China, and then jumps up onto the fake fireplace. And when he's done, he laughs his little asterisk off.

Max has taught him well.


2 March 2013

I walked into Starbucks a little after noon today, and the place was packed. All but one of the tables that lines the back walls was taken, my favorite table on the far wall and the two near it were taken, the long table with a good twenty chairs was partially filled, and the comfy chairs and sofas were occupied.

I felt a bit lucky to snag the little table that I did; and little is all I need. I’m half-heartedly working on an outline/taking notes for a new story, and I have no books or papers I need to spread out before me. I have my little MacBook Air (yes, be jealous, it is freaking awesome) and computer mouse, so all I need room for aside from those is my Venti Black Iced Tea.

That, by the way, now rolls off my tongue like I’ve lived in a Starbucks for ten years. One day I’m going to come in here intending to get hot chocolate, and by rote I’m going to ask for a Venti Black Iced Tead, unsweetened.

Looking around, nearly everyone here has a laptop, books, notebooks, pen and pencils and worried, furrowed lines on their foreheads. They’re young, I don’t see anyone older than about 25, and seriousness swirls around like a desperate cloud.

None of them are quite this cute
Welcome to the weekend before midterm finals at UC Davis.

I’m guessing.

It was packed like this just before last semester’s final exams; the bakery bar was kept loaded with munchies, and young adults staked out tables, only venturing forth to run to the restroom, get coffee and tea refills, and to buy sugar-laden snacks to keep themselves going.

I don’t remember being so seriously studious in college. Which might explain a lot about what little I’ve retained from those days. I can’t even blame drugs, booze, and a party lifestyle for that. We were Mormon, we didn’t have fun like that.


I almost feel bad that 60% of what I’m doing while I sit here is surf around Facebook. Though I did take a break from that to look in the files I have stored at Dropbox, and found 5 pages of something I started around 3 years ago, and it’s actually pretty good. I think I abandoned it to work on The King and Queen of Perfect Normal. Or The Flipside of Here. And then I forgot about it. I wrote Rock the Pink and helped =ahem= Max with Bite Me.

(Yes. Yes I did insert a little pimping there.)

I might have to pick it up soon.

But the kids here…so serious, and apparently somewhat frustrated. At least the girl sitting next to me seems to be, judging by the Oh shit…two hours on the wrong damned chapter I heard a little while ago. And by the kid running his hands through his hair, fingers so tight he’s also pulling more than a few strands out, I think.

I think most of them feel like this
Part of me wants to stand on the bench and announce that it’s not worth obsessing over; you either know it or you don’t, the tests will be a piece of cake or they won’t. Life won’t hinge on a few tests, and in 30 years you won’t really remember what felt so urgent about it all.

But then I remind myself that hey, I had really good grades but I don’t remember 90% of what I supposedly learned. Which is why I dangle participles and mangle passive/active voice, and why I tend to. Write incomplete sentences.

So I’ll just sit here and kind of pay attention to them while I get little real work done, and feel stressed for them by extension.

Hey, it’s the least I can do.

And while I’m at it, I can ponder why I thought it was a good idea to use profanity in a piece that was clearly intended to be in the Young Adult genre…


1 March 2013

Today, I should be in Charleston, and right about now I should be close to finishing the first day in the 3 day, 50 mile Challenge Walk for MS. Instead, I’m sitting in Starbucks, not working on the outline of a book I intended to be working on because playing online is way more fun, and sitting far away from anyone else because I may or may not be riddled with cooties.

DKM and I were supposed to fly out there this week and walk with Jeni and Dean McCaughan, but real life things got in the way and we had to bail. I’m just a little grateful I realized I wasn’t going to be able to go before I really started fundraising; I still feel bad about not doing the Avon Walk last year, and if I’d had to pull out of this one with any funds raised at all, I would have felt like a huge failure.

Seriously. I would have felt 20 kinds of upset and embarrassed.

In any case, Jeni and Dean are out there pounding the pavement and keeping us updated on Facebook, complete with a few pictures, which is all kinds of cool. I’m a weird level of Very Happy that they’re doing this; I know the experience of that first long walk, and it’s an amazing kind of cool I wish everyone could try, even if it’s only once.

On the end of the maybe-it’s-a-good-thing-I-didn’t-go spectrum… A couple of days ago I rode my bike up to Sacramento—it has a funky issue with eating batteries and we want to know why, even though I’m 99% sure it’s my fault for letting the bike sit in the garage off a charger for way too long this winter—and on the way home I started feeling not so great.

I felt not so great yesterday, too, and today…still not so great. It might have been something I ate—the Spouse Thingy wondered if I’d gotten another stealth mushroom, but I think I would be sicker if I had—but it also might be errant cooties coughed my way at some point.

In any case, I might have headed east and gotten sick out there.

For the record, I’m getting really tired of feeling like this. I haven’t been sick as often as I was last year and certainly nothing that’s been anywhere near the eruption that kept me from the Avon Walk, but I still have more days than I like where I don’t think venturing from home is a good idea. Or if I do, I make sure it’s someplace like Starbucks, where I can bolt to the restroom and not worry it’s going to be a gross mess of other people trashing it.

I’ve still committed myself to a few things this year: next weekend I’m walking the virtual 10K for the Leukemia & Lymphome Society, I’m crewing for the SGK 3 Day with DKM again, and I’ve been trying to register for a half marathon for the American Heart Association but I’m having issues with their website.

I’m also registered for the Avon Walk in September…but I’m not fundraising for it. I’m doing that one largely self-funded (I’ve had one good sized donation from someone who said they could care less if I walk it, ride the sweep vans all day, or spend the weekend shopping…I’m not arguing with that) and I’m doing it this way to more or less make up for last year.

Plus…I can take the tax deduction for it next year.

Also…if I find I can only walk part of it, it’s my money, so I won’t feel bad. I’ll feel bad if I can’t walk it at all, because I don’t want to miss another one and I want to hang with DKM, but if I have to hop a sweep or two…I’ll just count it as having paid for the ride ;)

(Y’all know half of why I do these things is to hang with DKM and talk about you guys, right?)

((We say nice things. Really.))

You know how when you’re trying to figure something out and you can’t because you’re too focused on it, but as soon as you stop trying to figure it out and concentrate on something else it comes to you?

The culprit, perhaps?
Fine, now that I’m sitting here not thinking about why the hell I started feeling like crap on the way home the other day and how I don’t feel as bad as I would if I’d gotten a mushroom, it occurred to me that what we had for lunch was from an Asian place in a mall.

It probably had soy in it.

Guess what I can’t consume?

Well now. Perhaps I’m cootie free after all, which kind of negates the whole, I could have been sick in Charleston thing, because I wouldn’t have eaten there on Wednesday if I’d been headed east for the walk.

And now…this post has truly become Thumper Thinking Out Loud…