Part 9

A while back we got a little tear in reality out in the back yard. I noticed it when I was walking Rufus one morning. Back beyond the fire pit, right before the creek, there was just a little spot of nothing about a foot off the ground, maybe six inches wide, and it extended up to about shoulder height. My best guess, judging by the ragged edges of the tear, was that someone was cutting through the back yard and reality got caught on their sleeve somehow and, when they kept going, it went with them.

“Hey, Bart,” I said when we got back to the house. “Did you see that tear in reality out in the back yard?”

“Really?” He got up from the couch and came to look out the kitchen window. “No. I don’t see it.”

“Go out back and look.”

He went out, looked, and came back in.

“Yep, that’s a tear. Weird that it looks fine from the other side.”

“Did you stick your hand in it?”

“Of course,” he said, rolling his eyes at me. “I’m not chicken, unlike you.”

“What did it feel like?”

“A little cold, but in this weather? That feels nice. Nothing strange.”

“What should we do?”

“Fuck if I know.”

So, for a while, we just left it. I’d go out for my morning walk and kind of peek into the hole without getting too close and everything seemed okay. Nothing appeared to be being sucked into it or spewed out of it, which seems to me to be the biggest risks of having a tear in reality in your back yard.

But then, of course, the dumbass cats started clawing at it. Is there a thing in the history of the universe with a rough texture like, say, the frayed edges of a tear in reality that a cat won’t fuck with? So, the tear was getting progressively bigger.

“You’ve got to block that up,” I said to Bart. “The cats are going to get in there and who knows if they’ll be able to get out.”

“Yeah, I’ll get to it,” he said. And he did stack some boxes in front of the tear, which worked for a while, but cardboard vs. the rain and the cats? The barricade wasn’t super-effective after a while.

I took some duct tape to it and that worked, but I swear, sometimes when I walked by, I could see the duct tape blockade moving slowly in and out, as if it were the diaphragm of some large, invisible thing, sleeping out there in the yard.

Photos of a Lot of Things

Night One

I started last night. Last year’s was not usual, not… not good, but not what I had hoped for. It turns out that you can’t sit that close to Death for real and then come hang out by the gate again for comfort or wisdom or whatever. They shoo you off, encourage you to remember but not linger.

But, I’ll be honest. A ritual like that can leave you feeling like maybe the magic is over–whatever it was doing for you at one point in your life, now that you’re at another, it can’t do it for you anymore. And the truth is that I do imagine that there will come a day when I might stop, when I might give up on it. I feel that impulse in myself every year, to believe that it’s stupid or means I’m crazy or at least foolish. Even though I think it does important things for me.

This is one of the important things it does–it shows me things about myself that I otherwise cannot see. How I will let go rather than feel foolish, even if the thing I’m letting go of brings me great pleasure. My investment in believing myself to be so fucking smart isn’t always good for me. I am trying to learn to be gracefully foolish. Or even gracelessly. I’m trying to be willing to be shown to know nothing.

And I’m trying to learn to be open. I feel like I spent the first twenty years of my life never being able to say no to things. I spent the next twenty years learning to say no and to not feel bad about it. I’d like to spend the next twenty years learning some balance between the two–to be open to things and people while also not feeling like my own will has no meaning.

Anyway, I was glad to get back at it.

Another SFB in the Books. Get it? Books?

Whew, what a weekend. The Southern Festival of Books will teach you things about relative time you never knew–like how long, oh, so long, the hour of 5-6 on Saturday is and how quickly 12-5 on Sunday passes. They seem like equal amounts of time.

It rained, a great deal, but I still had a wonderful time and got to see a bunch of people and learned a lot.

I am super tired, though. But also, feeling happy.

Part 8

The dog thinks the world of Bart. He follows my brother everywhere. He bought a Trans-Am just so when Bart went to the store, he could follow him. Or so Bart says. I think it also has to do with the fact that Bart never has sense enough to come home. This way, Bart and Rufus can go places together and when Rufus gets tired or bored, he just hops in his Trans-Am and hits the road.

I’m dying to ride in the Trans-Am, but, as far as I can tell, no people are allowed in it. Not even Bart. Sure, you’ll see the cats in there sometimes and, if Bart doesn’t get up in the morning to walk them, Rufus will sometimes swing by Monty’s house and get him. But never any people.

You can always tell if you see Rufus’s car around town, because he never, ever rolls the windows up and there’s a gross line of drool going all down the side of the car.

He gets pulled over all the time, as you can imagine. I mean, every other day, he just full-on stops in the middle of Briley Parkway to bark at cows. And once, he drove through a farmer’s fence and scared the guy’s goats so bad that they all got up on the roof of his house and, to this day, refuse to come down.

But every time the cops pull Rufus over, it’s always the same thing—he’s driving without a license, but a dog can’t get a license in Tennessee, so what’s he supposed to do? The car’s properly registered and that’s the important thing. He’s got himself about 11,000 hours of community service already, but he got them to let him pick up garbage from the side of the road, so that’s like motherfucking Christmas for him every day. Easy work and they cover lunch.

The only thing I don’t really understand is how he’s paying his lawyer. He doesn’t seem to work. So, I guess the lawyer has taken him on pro bono.

Get it?

Pro bone-o? A dog’s lawyer?

Come on. It’s a little funny.

Rain, Rain, Go Away

It’s raining and it’s the Southern Festival of Books. So, that stinks. Setting up the booth in the rain is going to be kind of unfun. I’m hoping it at least lets up a little.

I have a headache and about a thousand things to do. I had a thousand things to do yesterday, too, and ended up in bed at a quarter to nine. I slept well, though, so that’s fine with me.

Part 7

Bart knows everyone in town. Not even kidding. One time I was at a purportedly haunted house with a medium of some repute. She was asking “Who are you? What do you want?” and nothing, for like twenty minutes. And then, just as we were about to leave the basement, we heard a voice, clear as day, coming from the far, empty corner.

“Wait one moment, kind madam. You, there, with the curly hair. Are you, perchance, Bartholomew Phillips’s sister?”

I looked around, but there appeared to be no one else who fit the bill.

“Yes.”

“Lovely man. We went fishing together some time ago and it was quite enjoyable.”

Later, I asked, “You know a ghost?”

“If you say so. I don’t get into people’s business like you do.”

Oil and Grease

My car’s battery was dead this morning, so I spent a great deal of it–this morning–at Autozone, where the men all smell like mechanics. You’d think a mechanic would taste sweet, based on the smell, but my experience is that they either just taste dirty or exceptionally clean. The smell lingers even when the dirt is gone. I love honestly dirty fingernails, the way oil or grease or even field dirt, makes tall, narrow Us at the ends of fingers, how it gets into the knuckles of your skin and makes your hands look like a map full of tributaries.

Your body is a map to your life.

Anyway, the dude who smelled like dead leaves and dinosaurs changed my battery and got me on my way.

Just Gotta Do All I Gotta Do

This is the busiest week of the year for me–leading up to Southern Festival of Books. Last night was the Best of Nashville shin-dig. The Butcher went with me. We got cornered by a local prominent attorney who, when told I blog, informed me he doesn’t read blogs. He negged me! I mean, it’s bad enough to be negged in a romantic context, but just because that’s how some dude goes through life? Ha ha ha.

And I have this friend who’s really pretty in a very approachable way who dude kept trying to impress with stories about how he shot a dude! But the thing that cracked me up about it is that my friend could rock the Faye Dunaway “Bonnie & Clyde” look, but, if you knew her at all, you’d never try to impress her with “I could be your badass” stories. She’s just not the gangster moll. She’d be the gangster.

Tonight I have a meeting about Project X.

Tomorrow is the most important day of my professional life. So, no pressure or anything.

And there’s some stuff happening after that, but who can focus?

Part 6

Hobs also suffers from a cat-name problem. He’s “Hobs” because he’s orange and Bart grew up on Calvin and Hobbes. He’s “Hobs” instead of “Hobbes” because the cute chick behind the desk at the vet’s office when Bart first got him put “Hobs” down—I guess we can say with certainty that she was neither a comics fan nor a philosopher—and it stuck.

I usually call him “old man” because he acts like it, always wandering around the house or back yard muttering about how inadequate kids today are. He means us.

He’s a better hunter than Squeaky. She’s never brought down a rabbit or a bird. But he didn’t catch the dragon, now did he? And I’ll tell you why, just so you understand something about him. He could have caught that dragon the second it came down the ridge, before it burned its second house down. But no one asked him, so fuck them. He’s loyal to the people he’s chosen to be loyal to—even if he thinks we’re idiots—but he’s not sticking his neck out for people he doesn’t know who won’t come over and do a little ass-kissing in order to get his help.

Don’t think of him as some kind of aged Mafioso. Think of him as the world-weary gun-slinger. He’s got skills to handle dangerous situations, but he’s not just going to use them on anyone.

I walk most mornings, out to the far back of our yard, then along the fence-line to the AT&T yard and then up on Lloyd. I’m usually gone about a half an hour. The walk is strange in one small way—no matter how far down Lloyd I go before I turn around, the walk takes a half an hour. I could get out on Lloyd, go maybe ten feet, realize it’s raining too heavily for me, turn back around, come home and I’ve been gone a half an hour. Or it’s a beautiful, cool morning with the fog just rising up out of the trees in the hills, the stars winking out as the pink of dawn hits the sky, and I decide I’m going to the school and back. Still a half an hour. How? I can’t explain.

At the end of my walk, no matter how far I’ve gone, by the time I get back across the AT&T yard, Hobs is waiting for me. He comes out of the blackberry bramble just as I’m wondering if the orange cat is going to be waiting for me today. Then he rubs up against my ankles, meows in a friendly, happy manner, and walks back to the house with me.

He seems always pleasantly surprised to see me, like he’s expecting that one day he might come out to walk me home and I’m not going to make it to meet him.

Part 5

You should take your time naming a cat. We called Pumpkin “Pumpkin” because she came to us on Thanksgiving, a traditional time of pumpkin pie. I think I told you all how this happened. We used to keep the dog food out in the garage and we noticed that something had been getting into it. We assumed raccoons.

So, right before Thanksgiving, we brought the food into the house. Thanksgiving Eve I’m standing in my kitchen doing dishes and I hear the most ungodly pissed-off meowing from the garage. It was the cat who would eventually come to be known as Pumpkin, a scrawny mess, angry that we had stolen her food supply.

Pumpkin is a stupid name for her, though. It’s the wrong name. Her name is so obviously Squeaky that no one even uses her “real” name. She’s either “new kitty” or “Squeaky.” And that’s it.

Well, until this summer.

I’m sure you all heard about the “arsons” we had up here in Whites Creek and Joelton. Unsolved, they said. Bullshit. Of course it was a dragon. But you never heard that because the police didn’t want to admit that they spent a month trying to kill that thing without any success.

So, you never heard how it all ended either. And I’m not sure myself how she did it, but it was Squeaky. I was sitting here late one night watching TV and there was a big thud that shook the whole house. I assumed it was an accident out on the highway so I ran to the dining room window. Nothing. Traffic was passing normally.

And then I heard Squeaky, singing away as she does when she’s got something she’s proud of.

I open the front door and there, on the porch, is Squeaky, sitting next to the carcass of a small dragon. Okay, come on. It’s a cat. Let’s just be honest. The bottom half of the carcass of a small dragon.

“Look at you, Dragonslayer,” I said and that’s stuck as a second name for her.

Baby Butcher

I pulled this sweater right out of the dryer this morning and it smells just like a diaper. Not a dirty diaper. Like a clean, cloth diaper, like the diapers I used to put on the Butcher when he was a baby. And, because it’s smell, it brings back those memories so hard–how soft the skin on his face was, how his black hair was so wispy, the little crooked ls his legs made, how it felt when his fingers curled around mine.

It’s weird to think that he doesn’t remember any of that. That these memories, which I’d forgotten I even had, are a way I know him that he doesn’t know himself.

On the other hand, I’m not that exited about regularly smelling like a diaper, so maybe we need a different detergent.

Horns

So, I wanted to say a little bit more about it, because we ended up talking again last night about how much we enjoyed it. I just wanted to expound on how visually funny it is. I know Joe Hill only wrote the story, but there were so many sight-gags that it kind of made me wonder if they weren’t also paying a little homage to his comic book background.

The diner is “Eve’s.” The guy who gets horns has a brother who plays the horn. One of the characters gets two of his fingers blown off so his hand is permanently giving devil horns. Ig is turning into a demon at the same time he drives a gremlin.

I mean, they’re cheesy, but they’re cheesy visual puns in a really fun way.

Daniel Radcliffe’s accent is hilarious. I mean, it’s definitely an “American” accent, but I don’t know where in the United States someone has an accent like that. And this movie contains more peeing than most movies. Also Ig spends a great deal of time with his pants undone. It’s really interesting just because he has a body on-screen in a way men normally aren’t embodied.

Anyway, I liked it. But I was confused how Heather Graham has ended up doing bit parts.

Part 4

Rufus has the worst fleas. We bathe him. We dose him with Frontline every month and still, he is flea-riddled. And they’re nervy. Last month they went on strike for better working conditions. Seems I had created an unsafe workspace for them with all the flooding and the poisoning and their boss expected them to pay for their own safety equipment.

Well, why should I give a shit if my dog’s fleas go on strike? Sounds like Heaven. They refuse to do flea-things to my dog and I don’t have to think about how much money I’m spending on failing to eradicate them. Strike away, fleas.

My enthusiasm was ill-thought-out. Because, of course, they don’t need all 8,452 fleas on the picket-line at any given moment. Twenty of them would take their signs and follow behind the dog chanting their slogans and the rest of them would crowd onto the couch to watch TV. You think, well, how hard can it be to take a remote from a bunch of fleas? But then, you reach over for it and they swarm all over your hand, down in between your fingers and up your arm. It’s just so gross.

Lesley was all, “Just get some diatomaceous earth and sprinkle it on the couch. That’ll fix them.”

Oh, sure, for regular fleas. One day I sprinkle diatomaceous earth on the couch, the next day UPS shows up with 8,452 very tiny boxes. Inside each one? Protective suits. Worse? They bought those suits on Amazon using my account. Each order had its own shipping fee, so they drained my bank account. Why does Amazon even sell protective suits to fleas? I tried to get answers, but all Amazon would tell me is that they don’t pass judgments on their customers. Eventually, I got the bank to handle it—since the fleas stole my identity and bank information in order to place the order. But I know for a fact that not one of those fuckers got anything more than a slap on the wrist.

So, it ends up being me who has to go back to their boss and try to negotiate some kind of settlement, because I just can’t have all these fleas loitering on my couch. You can’t even imagine the difficulty of this. I had to sneak up on Rufus when he was asleep and then dig around in his fur to try to find the flea management that was still on the job and then talk to them softly enough that Rufus wouldn’t wake up. Otherwise, he’d put his head on my lap and insist on scratches or think we were about to go out and start hopping around. And to hear a flea, you basically have to let it crawl in your ear and then shout to you the things it wants you to know. Your ear never feels clean afterward.

But we make the negotiations happen. And I agree to issue general warnings before we bathe the dog. In return, they agree to cease trying to unionize the cats’ fleas. Soon enough, I can sit on my own couch and watch my own TV. But my dog still has fleas. What can you do?

Not Seeing What Side You’re On

I’m really glad that Mallory Ortberg wrote this response to Elizabeth Ellen’s utterly confounding post from last week. I mean, when you’re nervous about writing a post because you’re afraid it’s going to piss feminists off and not because you’re revealing that you molested three children when you were a child (when he was talking about his new memoir on NPR, Charles Blow said that, actually, the majority of molestations happen between children–the average age of a molester is 14 and the average age of their victim is 4. Doesn’t make it any less traumatic.), you are not operating on the same plane as the rest of us.

This whole part:

When I was a young person I molested three children younger than myself; a boy and two girls, one of which was my half-sister. Granted, I was, to the best of my knowledge/memory, nine or ten and the children were all about three or four years younger than I was. I know you’re going to say this doesn’t count. But think of finding me in your five year old’s bed. Think of my grandmother finding me on top of my sister in hers. I was shunned. Rightfully so, I thought. Separated from my sister (I was never caught in the other two cases). I remember being sent down to the swimming pool (who knows the logic behind this) while my grandmother comforted (?) or talked to my sister. I remember feeling like a monster. Ashamed. Crying alone in the water (in my memory it was evening, dinner time; maybe there were other people but in my memory I am alone). I don’t remember if this was the last time it happened. I don’t remember being molested myself (that is the logical next thought, I realize). I don’t know why I did it. I still don’t understand why. (My sister and I don’t talk. I never see her. I don’t know if this is based on what happened then or if this is based on any number of other reasons why half-siblings or any siblings may or may not talk as adults. I have often wondered how much or if she remembers; if it was a traumatic experience for her. I have never asked. I’m still too afraid; feel too much a monster.)

Where she seems unable to imagine that her grandmother might, indeed, be comforting her sister, unable to imagine that this might be why her sister doesn’t talk to her, and, frankly, unable to imagine that her sister might not want her to tell people what happened to her. It blows my mind.

And then the idea that you could know you molested three people, find yourself sympathizing with people accused of rape, and think you have some unbiased insight into the realities of these situations, instead of, you know, you identifying with the accused and not wanting to think that what you did was that bad.

The impulse to believe that, when you tell someone you molested three kids, they’re going to tell you that what you did wasn’t that bad… just holy shit.

The Dog Does not Process Negative Feedback

I try to imagine what the dog’s life was like before he came to live with us based on his weirdness now. The fact that he freaked the fuck out when I left for Memphis with a small suitcase, even though I leave for work every day with a large purse was weird. And, as I have now fictionalized, he’s not put off by negative feedback.

But the other thing is that I don’t think I’ve ever had a dog who listened so well and who worked so hard to figure out what I want from him. We had a couple of bad walks, where he just yanked on the leash and was ridiculous and so I started just stopping when I needed him to recoup himself. And that seems to have mostly fixed the problem. Yes, just me being consistent for a couple of walks.

Anyway, today, I let him off his leash once we got back to the AT&T yard and he ran into the yard and then turned back to look at me. Then he saw something behind me on the other side of the road and he started running toward the road. I was yelling “No, no, no, no, no” just like there was no tomorrow and he turned and stopped and put his tail between his legs. But then he came bounding over to see what I wanted. To make sure that we were okay.

So, I praised the shit out of him. Because I want him to always associate doing what I want with pleasant results.

Enemies and Truth

One thing I’ve realized lately is that a person’s enemies are rarely wrong. Your enemies do see some fundamental truths of who you are. The things they hate about you are most likely honest-to-god terrible and annoying things about you.

But what I find fascinating about enemies is that your enemies may have a legitimate complaint against you that obligates you to act–“That bastard killed my sister and I want him to face justice.” or “That woman wouldn’t hire me because I’m gay and I want her to face some kind of repercussions.” What your enemies want from you is not unreasonable, even if it’s incredibly disruptive to your life.–but a lot of times your enemies have a legitimate complaint against you–“God, she’s such a complainy douche!”–but the action they want to see taken against you–“Don’t hang out with her.”–doesn’t really obligate you to act. Just because someone doesn’t like that you’re a complainy douche doesn’t mean that you have to change to suit them. It also doesn’t make it right for them to try to separate you from your friends who also probably see that you’re a complainy douche, but find that outweighed by your undying loyalty and your willingness to drive them places whenever they need it.

It does seem to me like a lot of human interactions are about establishing who can force others to move without having to be moved themselves. Most of the time, I think we’d be better off if we all just agreed to either move together or not worry about whether others were moving but just on our own motions and the outcomes of those motions.

But I find the second kind of enemy so weird and fascinating because they’re arguing that their hatred of someone creates some kind of relationship that the person they hate should honor by trying to be less hated. I completely get why people who like each other come to understand themselves as being entwined in mutually beneficial obligations to each other.

But how does the person who hates you understand their claim on you if their claim on you isn’t, in part, “you are genuinely doing me wrong” as opposed to “you are annoying me.”?

I hate, genuinely hate, very few people in this world who I don’t feel have wronged me. The people who have wronged me, the obligation I think they have to me now is to leave me alone. But the people who haven’t wronged me, but who just annoy me into hatred, I don’t want to spend time trying to make them be more palatable to me. I don’t want to have to spend any more time with them than I do. If they were less terrible, I’d be under more pressure to tolerate them.

I feel like I’m missing some obvious thing here. There must be something pleasurable, even in a deeply twisted way, about trying to assert power over people you hate, but I just don’t see it. I mean, if you could guarantee that it would work–I can see how that would be pleasurable–to watch your enemies do your bidding. But real life isn’t often like that. Instead, you’re more often just struggling to try to get any hint of that kind of influence. Mostly, it’s just you and the person you hate yelling at each other and not doing what the other wants you to do.

Less The Godfather and more Real Housewives.

Keeping in the Habit

I realized I almost let another day pass without blogging and I didn’t want that to be the case. So, here I am. We watched Horns today, which I really liked. It’s visually really funny, which I appreciated.

Yesterday, I took the woman shooting the promotional video for The Wolf’s Bane all around and showed her things. It was cool and she seemed to have a good time. So that stuff is happening.

Also, if I were a DJ, I would play these two songs back to back:

Part 3

The other day, Bart came home from the park with the dog.

“He’s got something in his mouth,” Bart explained as he rummaged through the fridge, trying to find anything that Rufus would rather have than whatever disgusting, most likely dead thing he was sucking on at the moment. Half a pizza. That would do it.

Out of the dog’s mouth plopped a wet, bedraggled mess. It looked like a pile of leaves with a large set of dragonfly wings jutting out at unnatural angles. The whole clump was about the size of a tennis ball. Bart poked at it and it flopped over. I bent down to get a better look.

It was a small man. With wings. A faerie.

“Bart, it’s a person!” I could see the tiny man’s chest rising and falling. I put my finger on his forehead and, while he appeared to be warm, I had no way of knowing if he was feverish or if faeries just ran hot.

“Mister, are you okay?” I said, trying to gently jostle him.

“No, don’t do that,” Bart said. “Haven’t you had any kind of first-aid training? Don’t move the injured.”

“Well, then, what do we do? We can’t exactly call an ambulance.” By now, the dog was back in the kitchen, sniffing around the man. “Don’t put that thing back in your mouth, Rufus!”

The little man sputtered and opened one large, brown eye, and then the other.

“Thank you, kind sir,” he said to Rufus. “If you hadn’t carried me off, that raccoon would have certainly eaten me.”

“Oh, good boy,” I said to Rufus.

“I am the king of Nashville’s hidden realm,” the small man said.

“Cool,” Bart said. But I was more skeptical. I could say I was queen of Nashville but what did that prove?

“For saving me, I will grant you one wish.”

“To win the lottery,” Bart said, without hesitation and before I had a chance to say ‘a book contract.’ Rufus barked.

And just like that, the faerie king was gone and the bottom drawer in our pantry was filled with rawhide bones and, no matter how many we took out, the supply never dwindled.

Lou Lewis

Lou Lewis is the name of the black woman who gave Nathan Bedford Forrest flowers at the 1875 4th of July Pole-Bearers picnic. She called them a peace offering. He accepted them, again, using the words “peace offering.” He called her a “lady.” He gave a speech about Southerners, black and white, needing to learn to get along.

It was a strange day. It was nice of him to call her a lady.

Here’s the thing–when both parties call something a peace offering, isn’t that an acknowledgement that they’ve been at war?

The more research I do, the more it does feel like a war. If black people had lived here all along, it’d make much more sense–the United States conquered your territory, enslaved you, and waged a long battle against people who wanted to liberate your country.

It’s just that the land is missing, so it’s hard to see slavery as an occupation. But nothing else about how we talk about slavery really makes any sense. You just can’t argue that agricultural people with access to farm animals didn’t know their slaves were human. They had children with them. And you can’t argue that it’s just how it was, because so many people struggled against it. Slaves didn’t accept slavery as their deserved lot.

We conquered and occupied a people who would have never considered themselves a people before we kidnapped them and made them one.

Poor Butcher

I don’t even know what happened after I went to bed, but I woke up to a different cat than the one that was in the house, poop in the tub, a knocked-over cactus, a distraught dog, and the Butcher’s phone smashed to smithereens. These things probably aren’t all related, but it makes for one hell of a crime scene.

Part 2

We have a saying around the house when it comes to Rufus—“All heart, no brains.” He’s not exactly inherently dumb. But it does seems as if no one ever asked anything of him or expected anything from him before he came to live with us. It’s almost as if he did nothing until he came here and now, everything that happens that he gets to participate in is awesome.

Take, for instance, his favorite pastime—eating out of the garbage. He’ll go right into the garbage and bring out whatever he wants to eat and come sit next to me on the couch with it.

“No, Rufus,” I’ll say, taking the gross bit of garbage from him. “Bad dog.”

Then he looks around, like “Where? I want to see a bad dog. Where’s a bad dog?” It simply doesn’t dawn on him that I could mean him. After all, he’s having a wonderful time with people he likes.

And he loves my dad, like a total puppy. My dad comes to visit and Rufus is all “I should sit in your lap,” even though Rufus is at least a hundred pounds and my dad doesn’t have a lap that will fit him. One time, my dad was like “Damn it, dog! How would you like it if I sat in your lap?” And the dog got so excited. If he’d had a lap, he would have let my dad sit in it all day long.

But we have to keep our eye on my dad when he’s here, because Rufus has this friend, Monty, who’s a black lab mix. Monty’s favorite thing when he comes to our house to visit—aside from barking at the cats—is to rummage through the house and find all of Rufus’s toys. He brings the all into the living room, sets them on Rufus’s dog bed, and then climbs on top of them, like Smaug on his pile of gold. So, every fucking time my dad is here and Monty comes over, at least once Monty picks up my dad, brings him over to Rufus’s bed, and climbs up on him in order to claim him for himself.

And my dad is stuck there until someone comes to rescue him. And Monty and Rufus seem to think this is hilarious. Though, sometimes, they fight about it, too.

My Powers are Unlimited!!!

Well, not unlimited, but I have a treat for you, dear Tiny Cat Pants, readers, all 10 of you who are still around. Oh Halloween, here on this very blog, we’re going to go back to Allendale. I have a PDF from which I am, apparently, making a “chapbook” (like a poet!). But how would you get a chapbook if you wanted to read the improved story? You don’t even necessarily live here!

And that’s when my recently acquired ability to upload a PDF to this very blog comes in handy.

“Allendale” will be the Halloween night story!