Monologue #29 – Crystal

Several years ago I took in a basset/beagle mix named Crystal that was between three and five years old.  She had been born and raised in a kennel and for a long time had been the only female.  Her environment was roomy and warm with plenty of food and water, and lots of exercise. She was part of a group that had been used expressly for hunting purposes so her dog/human social skills were never really developed.  Crystal’s owners ran into some hard times and were forced to find homes for their dogs. Agreeing to take this shy, skittish, hard to love hound into my home turned out to be a decision that would forever alter how I viewed life and social structure.  

Getting her into my truck for transport home was challenging.  Unlike other dogs I’d had, she wanted nothing to do with ‘going for a ride’ which meant I had to bodily pick her up and put her into the cab.  Crystal had the body and legs of her father, very basset-esque, with the ears and shorter nose of her mother.  Picking her up was a lot like trying to heft a fifty pound sack of jello; the weight oozed to the bottom and she would try to slide away.  And I had completely underestimated those short, basset legs!  All four of them morphed into go-go-gadget arms with the strength and resilience of one hundred cats trying to stay out of the bath water.  By the time I was finally ready to drive away with her, she was hunched and trembling on the floor of the passenger side, completely withdrawn and unresponsive.  I was huffing in the driver’s seat with sweat trickling down my face and under my pits, and a couple shallow gouge marks on my arms from her nails.  I had won the first battle.  Feeling magnanimous I leaned over and gave her a reassuring pat on the head.  It was okay to be scared, I was there to support her.  We were in this together.  Everything would be fine.

Introducing her to the group at home was rudely done on my part.  I walked her into the house and took the leash off.  My old Spaniel came skidding into the kitchen and promptly smothered Crystal with his snuffling excitement.  Frodo, my small, gentle, gray tabby was the only one of the two felines that could associate with dogs without hating himself for it later.  He eventually adopted Crystal as his own.  That first day though was a lot like trying to get a fat slug out of a too small hole.  Crystal found a corner in my bedroom and curled up in a ball, refusing to have anything to do with anyone.

Once the novelty of the new addition wore off, life settled into something of a disturbing routine.  Wake up, let the dogs outside to run around and take care of business while I filled the food dishes.  Let the dogs back in to eat.  Get ready for work.  Mop up the puddle of dog piss on the dining room carpet that Crystal dumped there when she was done with her breakfast.  Go to work. Return from work.  Let the dogs out.  Mop up more piss in the dining room.  Let the dogs back in.  Eat dinner.  Watch television or whatever was my thing that night.  Maybe mop up more piss.  Go to bed.  Repeat.  In between all of that I petted and played with my animals, scratching behind their ears and rubbing their bellies, and gave them all treats and toys.  Through it all, Crystal refused to like anything. She didn’t approve of me petting her and looked like a flipped over beetle whenever I tried to rub her belly.  She would tighten every muscle in resistance and stretch her neck as far as it would go and stare, white eyed, into the abyss the whole time.  Feeling like I was violating her somehow, I eventually stopped trying.  Besides, being able to pet her was the lesser of the problems.

For some reason Crystal refused to alert me when she needed to pee.  Believing she was just socially awkward from living in a kennel where she had clear, immediate access to the outside when she needed to relieve herself,  I tried numerous things to get her to housebreak.  I tried letting her out more often.  I tried using the Spaniel to show her how to get excited about going outside.  I mopped with paper towels and took them, and her outside together to show her where the pee needed to be.  I even put a small bell on the door and tried to get her to hit it with her nose to signal her need.  The bell was the suggestion of my vet.  She thought Crystal’s shyness might be inhibiting her ability to just ‘ask’ to go out.  Giving her a bell to ring was a way for her to communicate without having to come to me directly.  It was also an effective way for the cats to exercise their musical talents.  Nothing worked.  Six months into this and I was pulling out my hair and losing my temper.  Dogs were a fact of my life.  My family had always had one.  I had never had a dog that wouldn’t housebreak.  My vet was out of suggestions and the carpet cleaning attachments for my vacuum were getting some serious game time.  

The thought that ran through my mind the most during this period was that Crystal was a product of kennel life.  She had never had to think about her needs before.  I tried very hard to understand what the difference must be like for her.  To go from doing as she pleased to being asked to, essentially perform a task, must be like me asking a Queen to get me a glass of water.  Oh… oh… OH! Lightning stuck and I felt my mind open.

The problem wasn’t about housebreaking at all, it was about Crystal being the only female in the kennel I had gotten her from.  She really was a Queen!  Being the alpha female of her previous home by default, she didn’t understand that she was no longer the boss.  She wasn’t peeing on my carpet because she needed to, she was doing it to mark her new territory… MY territory.  Oh crap.  Did this mean I needed to pee on my own floor?  The idea of fighting fire with fire was not something I could get behind.  There had to be another way.

I spent a couple days thinking things over and studying Crystal’s behavior very closely.  The plan that was forming in my mind was daunting and would undoubtedly leave emotional residue on everything so I wanted to be positive it needed to be done before I started.  She held herself above the pack, forcing them to leave her alone.  She never played with the other dog or even acknowledged the cats.  The only toy she had any interest in was a stuffed, blue frog which she took to her sleeping place and used for a pillow, never allowing it to be part of the toy box.  When she peed on the carpet it was always after she returned from being outside, as if she needed to re-establish herself in case someone had gotten the wrong idea while she was gone.  At feeding times she inhaled all of her food at once, a move that had an odd, mirroring effect on my gentle Spaniel.  I watched and I learned.

As I said earlier, my family had always had dogs.  As a kid I played with the family dog and took it for walks without ever thinking about how the dog might have felt about me.  A domestic dog, raised among people was just another member of the family.  A domestic dog raised among other dogs, away from people was a different story altogether.  Dogs like that don’t speak people.  They never learned our language.  In order to get my point across to Crystal I needed to open a line of communication that she would understand. Since she didn’t speak my language, I had to speak hers.

The day I changed everything was a Friday.  I had the whole weekend to be front and center in Crystal’s face.  When I woke up I let the dogs out as usual, but only filled one dish with food, leaving Crystal’s empty on the floor.  When I let them back inside I stood guard over my Spaniel, growling at Crystal to keep her away while he ate.  When everyone, including myself, had finished their meals I fed Crystal.  Later, during a playtime when I saw her slinking away to the bedroom, I stalked in there, pushed her off the bed I had given her and sat on it myself with my hand firmly and visibly holding down the blue frog.  The confusion on her face as she processed what she was seeing was heartbreaking.  Finally she went into the bathroom and laid down on the small rug by the tub.  I followed her and pushed her off, then sat on it myself, growling and showing my teeth the whole time.

I spent the entire weekend showing preference to the other animals and made clear, unarguable claims to everything she touched.  The final straw was the computer room.  I spent a lot of time in there.  My Spaniel and Frodo would usually come and hang out with me while I worked on things or played games.  Curious about the attraction Crystal had taken to laying in the hallway just outside the door, out of sight, but near enough that she could keep an eye on things.  The tags on her collar made a soft chiming sound whenever she moved around so I could tell when she was approaching.  I chased her away from the door, barking and growling like an idiot.  She fled to the bedroom.  After a few minutes the Spaniel returned and I went back to what I was doing.  Crystal came slinking back down the hall.  I chased her away again.  She didn’t try a third time.

By Sunday night I was emotionally exhausted and my throat was raw from all the growling.  I was doing some laundry and folding things on the couch while I watched television.  Taking a break I went to the kitchen and made myself a sandwich.  When I returned to the couch with my plate the Spaniel promptly plunked himself at my feet and stared excitedly at me while I chewed.  From the corner of my eye I caught sight of Crystal moving carefully through the kitchen.  She stopped at the doorway and looked at me with my food, and the Spaniel sitting there waiting for some.  She dropped her head and walked into the bedroom without another glance.  She had accepted her place.  I set my sandwich down and let my tears fall.  The war was over.

I stopped being a jerk to her, but I also never allowed the chain of command to be broken.  She always had a very clear picture of where she was on the pole of authority. The massive effort it took to get my point across has never left me.  Crystal never again peed on my floor and even started being a little social.  I let her have her frog back and she took it everywhere.  When it became too worn I replaced it with a similar model in green.  She accepted it without argument and took it to her bed.  Frodo started sleeping with her.  I know she liked him; they were secret friends.  Eventually I even managed to get her to stop being hysterical every time I needed to put her in the truck.  I can’t say she came to enjoy the rides, but she did get enough of a grip to be able to sit on the seat and look out the windows without shaking herself apart.  My Spaniel passed away during the next year which moved Crystal up the chain.  I was alerted to her knowledge of this fact when I heard her tags chiming outside the computer room.  She had given the hallway a wide berth since our restructuring.  With the Spaniel gone, it was her right to take his place.  She looked positively terrified when I came out of the room, but she held her ground.  I patted her on the head and scratched her ears then walked back into the room without further comment.  She laid down in the hall and watched things.

Eventually I decided to move to Milwaukee and into an apartment.  I wasn’t sure about how this would work out for Crystal and was discussing it with my mother.  To my surprise, mom felt very strongly that she should keep my dog.  She knew the struggle Crystal and I had been through together and understood the way things needed to be for her.  She was also a familiar person to Crystal.  Surprised by this revelation, I thought it over.  Being shy and skittish, my little ba/gel was extremely anti-social with strangers. Anytime I had company she would pace around and stare sullenly at everyone from a distance, never allowing anyone to actually befriend her or give her a pat.  It was commonplace to see her snatch up her frog and hide in the bedroom until the company left.  She also barked at leaves and wind.  My garage motion light would flash on every so often on stormy nights and Crystal would lose her mind sounding an alert.  Mom had worked hard at getting to know Crystal and really felt it would be better for everyone if she didn’t make the move to the city with me.  There was also the hinted-at-fact that my mom would be alone once I was gone.  I agreed to mom’s request and let her become Crystal’s keeper.

On moving day I took Crystal and her belongings to mom’s house and got everything set up.  The coup de grace was putting the stuffed frog on her bed.  Crystal looked at me in shock and began to tremble.  She knew I was leaving her.  I dropped to my knees and hugged her rigid body, petting her and rubbing her ears while my tears fell on her head.  Despite our stormy beginnings we had formed a tight and unusual bond.  I had no happy memories of playing catch with her or chasing each other around in the yard.  My happy memories were the ones where I was able to pet her for the first time and see that she was okay with it; the first time she actually came to me and rested her head on my knee; the first time she took a treat directly from my hand; and discovering that the reason she had become less grumpy about me trimming her nails was because of the treat she got when it was over.  She had never managed to become what I would call a family pet, but she had become my dog and I was her person.  Leaving her felt awful.  Frodo cried and looked for her for months, searching all the corners of our Milwaukee apartment.

Over the next five years my mother regaled me with stories of Crystal and her awkward social graces.  She kept me updated on her health issues as she aged and asked my thoughts on treatments and things.  When Crystal misplaced her frog my mother was beside herself with concern.  My ba/gel became depressed and barely budged from her bed for days.  Mom searched everywhere.  Eventually she thought to pull the couch away from the wall and discovered the frog wedged under one end.  According to mom, Crystal saw the frog and came flying off her bed, her whole body wiggling and tail whipping behind.  Mom said it was the most genuine excitement she had ever seen in her.

The day came when mom called and said she thought Crystal was reaching the end.  We guessed her age to be close to fifteen years at that point.  She had developed dietary issues and arthritis as well as having random growths sprout up that had to be removed.  Her muzzle was completely white.  Storms rarely bothered her anymore.  Mom said she would come home from work and actually be fully inside the house before Crystal would open her eyes and look up, bleary and tired.  It took a bit, but I came to understand that mom wanted me to tell her it was okay to let Crystal go.

Three years have gone by since Crystal left and I still have strong feelings about her.  She left a huge mark on my mother and me.  We often talk about her strange behaviors and share some laughs over her and the frog.  I sometimes wonder if she had any feelings about her life with us?  I’m sure she missed her kennel mates for a while.  Hopefully my mixed pack of critters made her feel less out of place.  Considering how well she took to singular life with my mother, I think she may have been less territorial had she not had to face a group in the beginning. She is truly missed and well remembered.

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Monologue #28 – Lost Anger

A funny thing happened on the way to self-employment.  I lost a lot of my anger. I noticed it a lot in the way I write.  Prior to these past few months everything I wrote had angry blasts of rage and unhappiness in it and my personal Muse was constantly smacking me on the head.  Now I write at a steadier pace with much less red in my eyes and my written work is far more crafted and thoughtful. I’ve been working diligently on my book Smashing Pumpkins as well as working on a couple pieces that I intend to submit somewhere, so I’m definitely not sitting on my hands.  There’s also this strange occurance of friends. I’ve got some now. I’m not sure how to handle that so I’m just drifting along with it, learning how to be a participant in things that I like with people who don’t offend me just by breathing in and out. It’s funny to me to discover that most of the people I called ‘friend’ from my old job were really just people I was desperately willing to bond with over a shared misery as opposed to folks that genuinely shared a common interest with me.  I haven’t dropped all of my prior ‘friends’. There are a few that have stayed with me, snuggled into secret spots in my heart like worms, and I intend to keep them there. It’s just so different to discover that I can actually choose who to spend time with now as opposed to grabbing at whomever was available.

The lack of anger in my writing is most noticeable to me in my choice of verbs and adjectives.  I’ll write a sentence, then go back and change or remove most of the action descriptors to more realistic choices, slowing down the frantic pace of activity and emotion.  When I go back through some of the shorts I’ve written for this blog I am actually rolling my eyes at myself and snickering. Not being mad all time has opened a whole new level of writing for me that I’m a super happy with.  I feel like I have finally leveled up.

Before I go, a quick note about Easter candy.  DON’T DO IT! I actually made myself sick with it.  For some reason I released my inner candy demon and let it charge, face first, through a pile of candy.  I spent that night and the next day SICK. Ugh! If I see another chocolate bunny or cream filled egg anywhere near my mouth I’m stabbing it to death with a soldering iron.  Gah! I’m too old for that stuff. I know better. (facepalm of shame)

Liebster Award!

I got an email the other day telling me I had been nominated for a Liebster Award.  Having not encountered this particular creature before I sought the knowledge of the Great Oracle.  Google lead me to the link above.  It appears to be a thoughtfully constructed exposure chain for the upcoming year, similar to a blog tour but different.  I find the idea both fun and compelling and I am pleased to be included in this.  According to the rules, I have to include them in my post so here they are, copy and pasted.

  • Link to this blog post in your Liebster Award blog post
  • Answer the questions given to you (if nominated, if you were not nominated you can use my questions)
  • Create more questions for your nominees to answer (I’m looking for unique and creative ones)
  • Comment on this blog post with a link DIRECTLY to your Liebster award. To make it easy for me to read them all.

Right out of the gate I would like to acknowledge the blog that nominated me, The Stories In Between and tell you a little about them.  I hadn’t run across the blog before the nomination so I’ve been doing a little reading.  I have to say I’m quite impressed.  The author’s style of writing is smooth and I have no doubt there is a lot of personal experience behind the writing.  I can feel it in the shape of the characters and their quite natural dialogue.  I always appreciate a story that will take me away from wherever I’m at and leave me feeling like I want to go back.  Truly a talented writer who takes the craft seriously.  I strongly encourage you to have a look at the blog and enjoy the writing.  I’m not finished there yet so I’ll be ramping up the views as I make my way through Thursdays In The Valley.  I am genuinely flattered to have to such a fine storyteller nominate my blog.

EDIT:  This post has taken me a few days to write and before I was finished a second nomination was dropped on my blog.  Thank you so much A Tree’s Roots!  Your blog is quite inspiring.  The energy that you put into your life and your words is meaningful to me on many levels and I look forward to spending more time on your blog.  The answers to your questions follow right after The Stories In Between.  I hope it’s not cheating to do it like this.

Next up is the questions.  The Stories In Between answered ten questions posed by the blog that nominated them, then created ten new questions for the blogs nominated by them.  My job is to answer the ten new questions then create ten of my own.  So here goes.

The Stories In Between

  1. What hobby would you get in to if time and money weren’t an issue?

Cartooning.  I realize this isn’t a big money issue, but I simply don’t have the time for it.  I draw a little bit but it’s nothing major.  If I really had time to devote to it I would develop both a comic strip style storyline as well as an animated version.

  1. What is the most annoying question that people ask you?

How old are you?  Lol.  I’m 51 but I seem to still be holding up pretty well.  The question seems to spark a lot of argument on occasion, prompting me to dig out my wallet and show my ID to prove I’m really that age.

  1. What’s something you’ve been meaning to try but just haven’t gotten around to it?

Making my own condiments.  My wife just got me a stick blender for Christmas so I’ll be trashing the kitchen soon while I try to make homemade mayonnaise.  Wish me luck!

  1. Do you have a dream job? What would it be?

Writing.  My mother always beat me over the head with the idea of having something to fall back on and as a result I have always devoted my time to the fall back job and never enough time to my writing.

  1. If you could make one rule that everyone had to follow, what rule would you make?

Walk the way you drive people!  Stop charging up and down whatever side of the sidewalk you feel like.

  1. If you could make a 20 second phone call to yourself at any point in your life present or future, when would you call and what would you say?

I would call myself at a rather specific moment twelve(ish) years ago and say “Don’t apologize.  You are right.”

  1. What do you do to deal with stress?

I write stories and turn my antagonists into demons.  I also play video games to kill things with impunity.

  1. Do you have any pets? What are their names?

I have three pets.  Bill is a gray tabby who stares and chirps at things only he can see; Louie is a fat, orange tabby I bought from PetSmart… cuz I looked at him and he looked back.  Ya know?  Everette is a white ferret that seems intent on convincing Bill and Louie they are adopted.

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  1. What is something that is really popular/cool right now that really annoys you?

Memes.  ‘Nuff said.

  1. Do you have a favorite book/story from your childhood?

I have a number of them however there are two that stand out:  A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle (I’m curious about the upcoming movie.  Will my hope for a good translation from book to film be met or shattered?) and Taran Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander.  Taran was given to me by mother who had a bad habit of not bothering to see if the book she was buying was part of a series.  It was only after reading it that I actually read the entire cover and discovered I needed to save my allowance and buy the rest of the series.  I am my mother’s child.

Questions from A Tree’s Roots

1,  What is your favorite color and what does it mean to you?

A deep emerald green.  To me it means health and good fortune.  Just seeing this color will make me smile.

2. What prompted you to start blogging and/or writing?

I’ve always written stories.  When I was around five or six my mother gave me a book with blank pages and it set my mind on fire.  The blaze has burned long and hard.  Starting a blog as an outlet for this seemed like a natural step.

3.  What is the most significant journey you’ve been through?

The one I’m on right now, my life itself.  I have made so many choices that I felt were arbitrary but turned out to be significant in the end.  Where I’m at right now is not a place I would have seen myself even five years ago.  It’s kinda fun to know that I can still blow my own mind.

4.  Who or what is your greatest adversary?

I have to say my own fear of failure.  Judging myself as harshly as I do can become paralyzing.

5.  If you could conceptualize yourself as anything other than a human being, what would you be?

A tree.  My life has been quite nomadic even in childhood.  I would love to find a single location where I could put down my roots and just live.

6.  How would you describe your safe place?  If you don’t have one what do you imagine it might be like?

My safe place is anywhere without other people.  I need to feel like my mind is the only one active in my immediate surroundings.

7.  What is your favorite website?

Hmmm.  I’m not sure how to answer this one.  I don’t think I have a favorite but there are several that like a lot.  I’m a big fan of Reddit and Twitch.

8.  What type of media resonates most with you?

I love audio.  Tell me a story.  Read me a book.  Turn on a podcast!  I think I listen to movies more than I actually watch them.

9.   Do you have any background/education/experience you feel benefits your blog?

Not really.  I took a few college classes back in the day for english and creative writing but I didn’t enjoy them.  I found them to be tedious and unenlightening.

10.  On a scale of 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest) how would you rate your ability to empathize?

I have to go with 10.  I am firmly standing on the side of over-empathizing to the point that it can ruin my whole day if I encounter someone oozing unhappiness.  I carry that stuff around with me.

Before I list my own questions I would like to provide the list of blogs I am nominating.  Each one is one that I follow and have enjoyed.  I would really like it if you would take the time to check them all out.  

 

Nominees:

https://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com/

https://iainkellywriting.com/

https://nonexistentbooks.com/

https://thefreedomof.wordpress.com/

https://thougthcontrol.wordpress.com/

https://dwaynewolff.wordpress.com/

https://mabrycampbell.wordpress.com/

Now for my questions.

  1. What is the one piece of advice that will forever jump into your mind because you didn’t take it when your were first given it?
  2. What is your favorite thing to binge on?
  3. What is a physical gesture you tend to use a lot and why?  EX. talking with your hands, winking at someone while you speak, shaking your leg.
  4. Pick a card, any card… a tarot card.  🙂
  5. What are your top two pet peeves with our digital age lifestyle?
  6. What is your all-time favorite blogging beverage?
  7. Name a book/movie that you can watch/read again and again.
  8. What is an activity you enjoy watching other people do but don’t want to do yourself?
  9. How do you explain why water turns into ice to a four year old?
  10. What is a habit you have that you got from someone else?

Monologue #26

This week’s story is one that I challenged myself to.  I’ve always wanted to do a locked room mystery, but haven’t had the bolas to try it.  To make things even harder on myself, I have imposed a limit of 3000 words.  Just to be clear, I’ll be posting this in three parts of 1000 words each.  The last time I tried a three part post/story I went over my word limit by just a little bit.  The finale took more than 1000 words to write.  I intend to do better this time.  And on top of all of that, I chose three random items to use as clues.  If anyone wants to play along at home, the items are as follows:

  1. Pillow – doesn’t matter what kind. It can be a bed pillow, throw pillow, cat pillow… whatever.
  2. Round plastic condiment container with a cracked lid – the kind you get sauces and stuff in.  It’s up to you if there is actually anything in it or not, it just needs to be an informative clue.
  3. Cigar Stub – Chew it, smoke it, use the ashes.

There you go.  One locked room mystery with ready made items for use.  If anyone runs with this idea throw me a link please.  I would be interested in reading what you come up with.  I need to get writing now, I have a murder to plan.

Happy writing everyone!

Monologue #25

I’m trying to get back into the swing of things.  I gave the blog a new header image and updated my About page which gave me a satisfied feeling.  Getting involved again feels like taking a deep breath after coughing too hard.  I need this air in my lungs.  This air right here.  Yup, that’s much better.

Smashing Pumpkins has progressed tremendously in the past couple months.  I have been forced to face the full size of this work (70k and climbing) and finally accepted the fact that I can’t pants it anymore.  Getting everything into working order now is going to take some seriously focused effort since I’ve got characters running all over the place right now.  To that end I have Googled  how to organize my material with Scrivener in a way that I can work with and found some good ideas.  When I bought the software I was aware of the learning curve and thought I’d just take it slow.  As it turned out, I’m not that patient.  I tore through the information provided and touched everything.  That doesn’t mean that I remember everything I learned, it just means that I got super excited and looked at it all.

Today’s business is really just going to be business.  I need to get out and work so I’m going to set my pen down (I still use one) and download a couple episodes of Star Trek DSN to my tablet and head out into the world to make some money.  What does DSN have to do with anything?  I spend a lot of time waiting, that’s what.

In the meantime please checkout the latest short work, Between The Pews.  As always, I wish you all inspiration and personal satisfaction in your endeavors.  Here’s to a productive year!  Cheers!

Monologue #24

It’s funny how the one thing you thought was going to change your daily life for the better can manifest in the completely opposite manner.  Four months ago I was looking at a shift change and was preparing to move myself more into daylight hours.  Working third shift was good but working NOT third shift is better.  I’m a swing shift kinda guy and have my best hours right, smack in the middle of our twenty-four hour cycle.  I was excited and looking forward to this change.  I had high hopes of getting back to something more comfortable.  Well, that didn’t happen the way I thought it would.  The new shift was awful; management turned into demons, and my nerves shattered, making me combative and argumentative.  Four months later I have a different job, a different apartment and a different life altogether!  WTF!

Don’t get me wrong, here.  I’m not usually hard to work with.  My day job was my bread and butter; my entire life up until then.  I have ridden out hard times in the past by simply looking past it and seeing that things would get better eventually.  I put twenty-three years into that job and made a career out of it when I had no other career options; mostly because I hadn’t thought of any.  I had been a goalless twenty-something when I went into that industry.  In my mind it was just another stop on my non-existent travel plan through life, kinda like working at the local chicken-by-the-bucket place had been.  It was something to do that made me better money than slinging greasy food at people and going home smelling like fried everything.  I had no idea that I was going to fit so well into the new job and that it was going to become my employment Mecca for the bulk of my adult life.

I guess I’m actually writing an obituary here for my lost youth.  The past few months have left me bitter and feeling more my actual age than I ever have before.  My birthday was a few weeks ago and added a one to my half century of life.  With all those years behind me, putting up with so much crap from a job that once gave me a lot of happiness just became something I wasn’t willing to do anymore.  Putting up with garbage as you grow is a part of life.  Those shovelfuls of shit that get dumped on you are things you learn to deal with and avoid.  Everyone has to learn those things.  I wasn’t born into a family that was bursting at the seams with money and influence so I had to pick my way along like the rest of the poor and middle class.  Finding a job that was a good fit for me was really a surprise, and in many ways, a gift.  I know in my heart that a lot of folks don’t get to spend their lives working at something they actually like.  For me to find that job before I turned thirty was blessing that I can’t overlook.  To have those shovels turn into dump trucks was not.

Now I’m drifting along on the tracks of self-employment.  My car is my business.  Sadly, a lot of other people have chosen the same path as me and the work is a little scarce right now.  I believe business will pick up soon though.  Once the holidays are over all the part-timers will fade back out and I’ll be able to get back to the business of making money.  In the meantime I have resumed work on my novel and started blowing away the dust from my blog.  I never meant to leave it, especially for so long, but the stress of these past few months was more than my writing could hold.  Something had to fall by the wayside.  It hurts to know that my deepest love is the first thing to get left behind when times get tough, but I understand.  Survival first.  Creativity comes later.

Stay sane during this most obnoxious of holidays and don’t forget to tip your Uber/Lyft driver.  They gotta eat too. 🙂

Monologue #23

Another late post.  I’m struggling to get things done for myself right now.  By this time next week my schedule will be different and I will be learning to function in a different time slot.  I’m looking forward to this a lot.  After being on third shift for five years, the idea of being able to sleep at night rather than during the day is like a rainbow spreading over my spirit.  Knowing that I’m in the last days of perpetual daylight seems to be causing extreme tiredness though.  It’s like my body knows that real sleep is coming and is already trying to get to it.

Before I go, here’s a quick work-related story.  

I was talking with a coworker about Lemon Wedges, which is my nickname for a certain customer who comes in pretty much every night.  The name came from her particular habit of eating lemon wedges in their entirety.  Pulp, seeds, rind, all of it.  The whole wedge goes in her mouth and nothing comes back out.  After relating this curious fact to my coworker, he stared at her for a few seconds, shrugged and said, “She always reminds me of Misery.  You know, that book by Stephen King?”  I promptly leaped aboard the Fiction Train and let it carry me off for the rest of the night.  Finding the Wand Maker from Harry Potter was the pinnacle of my work day!