Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I may have mentioned that Aerie is a rescuer of cats. After Thumper was born, though, it seemed like our family's commitment to cats was dwindling, that saving cats wasn't quite as important as it was before. After all, with a baby, there's more than enough poop, pee, and puke to clean up without adding the extra burden of feline bodily fluids spattered around the house.

As Thumper got older, I began to wish maybe the whole cat thing would end. It's important to Aerie in a deeply emotional way that goes back years and years and years, but she seemed to be moving toward an acceptance of the end of cats, too. And I thought there might at last be an end to urine and vomit stains in the carpets.

Then Aerie's boss was found by a stray that he could not take in because there was no more room in his pet-loving home. So Aerie and I agreed to give him a home. Timmy (named by Thumper for the baby sheep in Shaun the Sheep, a spin-off from Wallace and Gromit: A Close Shave) is a great cat, very friendly and more than willing to sit on my lap and let me pet him. He almost never throws up, but he does have a pathological need to pee near all of the windows in the house whenever a stray comes by, despite my assurances to him that none of those strays can get in anyway. It's his territory, dammit, and he must mark it.

And then, of course, a few months ago, we went out to dinner with Thumper, and afterwards went to the ice cream shop, and the bookstore, and the pet store so that he could look at the fish and the ferrets, the bunnies and the lizards and the birds. And the kitties that the pet store was adopting out for the local county animal shelter. And then, of course, we went home with Eva (named by Thumper for the character from Igor voiced by Molly Shannon, and the robot Eve that Wall-E insists on calling "Eva" in the adorably apocalyptic Disney Pixar movie). She was well-named, for she is both evil and sweet, like Igor's creation, and strong and independent with a soft side, like the plant-seeking robot.

She's only 6 or 7 pounds, a tiny little thing, but she, not her 15- or 16-pound brother Timmy, is the one I warn parents and kids about when they come over for play dates. She will mess you up. She will cut you like a gangbanger in prison. She's got shivs aplenty.

Like Puck before her, though, she has bonded to Aerie. She wants very little to do with Thumper and me, but she follows Aerie around the house like a dog. When Aerie went out of town last week, Eva sat by the door, patiently waiting most of the night for her to come home. When Aerie leaves for work in the morning, Eva actually grumbles, moping her way to the bedroom to sleep on the bed most of the day.

But she'll still tear the hell out of Aerie's hands and arms. She'll still swipe at her legs. She latches on and kicks and kicks, and Aerie works patiently to grow her trust, to extend the time that Eva will tolerate petting before she lashes out. Aerie once had to get antibiotics for a cat bite, and she is constantly covered in healing scabs, but still she works and works and works to soothe the savage beast.

And today, I realized: Eva is Aerie's familiar. They have a strong bond because she is the embodiment of Aerie's true animal spirit. She will love and love and love, but watch out, because if she loses trust for you, she will fuck you up for sure.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Here's my response to Trifecta's Week Sixteen Challenge, in which I brutally abuse the poor, innocent comma:

Wretched is the state of love sometimes, though we cling to it violently anyway, for years. She needs you, but she can only understand your own need, your own love, when you sacrifice yourself completely. You do not love, she thinks, unless you give. You do not love enough, she thinks, unless you give everything. How can this not, despite your best intentions, your fondest wishes, your own naïve delusions, encourage her to slowly fall apart, to follow a path of illnesses and injuries, real and imagined, which require you to prove, again and again, your commitment, your love, your willingness to subsume yourself into her?

This is not, no matter what you thought when you ran away together so many years ago, laughing, giddy with the adventure of escape, this is not the love that the poets sang through the centuries. No matter what you went through before, you did not know then, but you have since learned, what desperate human need looks like.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Phantomly Menacing Questions

One of the benefits of having a wife who feels guilty when she takes time for herself is that when she plans to go out of town for a few days for recreational purposes, she lets me go to Dads' Night Out with my stay-at-home dads' group, then sleep in the next morning, then have another night off to go see a movie. I chose Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace in 3D, and it brought up a few questions:

1) Why is this movie so full of tedious political intrigue when it's so heavily marketed toward children, who have zero patience for tedious political intrigue?

2) Why are the Tatooine/Pod Race characters so ridiculously cartoonish, especially the two-headed Pod Race Announcer, and several of the pilots?

3) Who decided that Jar Jar Binks would survive this movie while Darth Maul would not?

4) Isn't it Obi-Wan's rage and grief at the death of Qui-Gon Jinn, which are distinctly Dark Side traits, that give him the strength to defeat Darth Maul?

5) When it first came out, was the average viewer supposed to know or to be shocked by the reveal that Padme was Amidala and Palpatine was the Sith Lord?

6) Did I just miss the Immaculate Conception of Annakin Skywalker the first time around, or was that another new innovation from George Lucas, who has previously demonstrated his willingness to revise his movies with every new re-release? Spontaneously knocked up by the midichlorians? Really?

7) Do the accents of the Viceroy and the other members of the Trade Federation seem vaguely racist in a way that I can't quite put my finger on, or is that just me?

8) Shouldn't Palpatine have learned from the destruction of the Droid Control Ship and the resulting shutdown of the entire invading army, that placing all of one's eggs into a single basket, such as a massively expensive Death Star with a glaringly exploitable weakness, is poor strategy?

9) Isn't "Real 3D" essentially a gimmick, layering 2D images, much like a pop-up book, allowing theaters to make the ridiculously expensive theater experience even more expensive? And why exactly are the glasses modeled after the Ray-Ban Wayfarers of Risky Business fame?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Date Night

For Trifecta's special bonus weekend challenge, cleverly called "Trifextra," the prompt called for a love scene that does not use any of a list of 33 clichéd love story words, or any of their variations. I tried to write it without any of the words and was surprised to find when I double-checked, that "mind," "wine," and "hair" had still managed to sneak in there, so I had to reword them.


He could feel drops of sweat rolling slowly down the small of his back, and he was sure he had lost at least some skin from his knees. The toes on his left foot were cramping, curling up into a claw that he couldn't straighten out no matter how he tried. Later, he would search frantically before finally finding his shirt under the recliner, and already the stain on the couch from the spilled glass of burgundy, and how he would try to remove it tomorrow, was lurking on the edge of his awareness.

But the sight of her long, dark curls spread across the white carpet filled him with joy. The quiet, empty house was all theirs, every room, table, chair, and stretch of floor they wanted to try was fair game. With nearly two hours left before he had to pick up the baby, remembering the glorious abandon of their youth, the simmering intensity of their ardor, was a treasure most precious.

Friday, February 10, 2012

I'm Minding the Kid, Though He's Often Not Minding Me

A friend of mine posted a link on Facebook to a fascinating article about a report from the Census Bureau and how it classifies stay-at-home dads and the work we do. He seemed annoyed by the way the report willfully skews its view, assuming always a mom-centric child-rearing experience, where a dad is only a "designated parent" when he's the only parent.

Me, though, I'm glad this stay-at-home dad thing is still staying off the mainstream radar, more or less. I mean, I'm a white, middle-class, suburban father in a two-parent household. There aren't a lot of opportunities out there for me to feel "alternative" or "subversive."

I have had the conversation now and again where someone, usually an older woman, says, "Oh, giving Mom a break today, huh?" Or where someone, usually an older man, says, "Oh, got the day off from work today, huh?" But mostly moms on the playground say that they think it's great that I can do what I'm doing. I suppose that in itself is evidence of a bias, since I am certainly not telling any stay-at-home moms how great it is that they can do what they're doing, but still. I almost never face a negative bias.

But to be so out of the mainstream that I'm not even measured? That my contribution isn't even considered as part of the equation? I don't know. Maybe it's just me, but I find that appealing. I suppose we'll see if I still find it appealing when I'm sitting in interviews someday with these days as an entry on a resumé, with a potential employer questioning what exactly I did all this time.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


33 words in response to the Trifecta Writing Challenge, Week 13:

I carefully considered my counterargument and deftly presented it, irrefutable. Still, her face was the definition of “sneer”, or perhaps “smirk.” Slowly, very slowly, she dragged out her rebuttal into two syllables: “deep.”

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Goals Met and Unmet

So I'm 40 now. Last year, I set some goals for myself. Some of them I met; one of them I didn't. I'm only halfway to my weight loss goal, mostly because I did not stick to the calorie-counting and limited alcohol consumption. I'm not sure why this is so hard for me, but it's a lifelong struggle. I'll keep struggling.

I'm not going to beat myself up too badly for it, though, because I have succeeded in some ways that I never have before. While I didn't lose as much weight as I wanted, when I stopped losing, I maintained instead of gaining. I ran my first 10K nearly 2 years ago, and I've continued to run, to improve, to decrease times and increase distances, and it's that long-term commitment to running that's new to me. I have, all my life, lost weight, stopped exercising, then gained weight back again. This time I'm keeping regular exercise as part of my lifestyle, mostly by continuing to add running events, 5Ks, 10Ks, and even a half marathon, to my calendar.

Oh yeah, did I mention I ran the 3M Half Marathon? I registered to give myself a new challenge, but at the time, and right through to the time that I crossed the finish line, I didn't really believe that I could do it. I set a time goal for myself that was only a little bit slower of a per-mile pace than my 10K pace at the time, and I thought I couldn't possibly reach that goal, either.

But I did. I ran the whole way, never stopping to walk, and I beat my time goal by 30 seconds.

So looking to the future, I guess it's time to remind myself of old goals, like controlling my calorie intake and especially my alcohol consumption. But it's also time for new goals. I would like to reach my 200 lb. goal by the time the local pool opens for the summer, which is around May 1. I'd also like to be a better father to Thumper. I'm terrible at controlling my annoyance and exasperation. I can see clearly how I'm teaching him to react the same way as every day I see my irritation reflected right back at me. One of the members of the Stay-at-Home Dads group was talking about a class he's taking, called Logic and Love, and it may be that Thumper and I would benefit from something like that. At any rate, I'm tired of being bitchy so much of the time.

This is the year that Thumper will enter kindergarten, and I also plan to start writing now. I'll be staying home full-time for a while even after he enters school, and I'll need to find ways to do that and still earn more money. I've always wanted to be a writer, but I've never actually written very much, so now is the time to establish a more regular writing routine by blogging more often and participating in writing challenges like Trifecta and Velvet Verbosity's 100 Word Challenge. To write, and to sell, short stories, articles, and eventually a novel, I have to actually write short stories, articles, and a novel.

So continue to work on my health and fitness, read and write more and watch fewer movies and TV shows on the internet, and try to be nicer to my son. That's where I am right now. Happy 2012!
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