People are Strange

I’m going to just say, up front, that I don’t know whether Jamie Satterfield should have known that Baumgartner was on drugs. I completely understand why people are casting about for folks to blame, but really, do you need to cast your net wider than the officers of the court who knew he was on drugs?

Let me tell you why I don’t believe that Satterfield knew Baumgartner was on drugs. It’s in part because of how she wrote about Henry Granju. He was “strung-out, broke, and essentially homeless.” He was a “hard-core” addict. He “craved” drugs. He was “scrounging” and “pill-sick.” I mean, he basically sounds like he was some kind of movie monster, like a zombie shuffling through the streets of Knoxville moaning “pills, pills” instead of “brains, brains.”

And maybe he was. Let’s be fair.

Except that there’s nothing in Satterfield’s story to indicate that Satterfield talked to anyone for that story, except for law enforcement. Everything in that story that describes Granju, if I’m reading that story correctly, is based on Satterfield’s extrapolation from the police file, not on actual interviews she did with Granju’s friends and family and, hell, enemies about how he behaved and presented himself. In other words, everything in that story that is descriptive of Granju’s behavior is based on Satterfield’s supposition of how drug addicts act.

And if that’s what Satterfield thinks a drug addict looks like, then it’s little wonder that she could sit in Baumgartner’s courtroom for weeks on end and not realize he is a drug addict as well. Honestly, I give her credit for at least realizing she should ask him if something was going on with him, even if she then took him at his word that he was just sick.

But here’s the thing–drug addicts aren’t easy to identify monsters. It can be hard to tell that there’s something going wrong with your child/friend/colleague/person you see every day. This is, in part, what makes it so difficult for people to deal with the drug addicts in their lives. Even figuring out that there’s a problem and what it is can be difficult. And trying to figure out if it’s been dealt with and the person is back on the wagon can be nearly impossible.

Satterfield is lucky–and I mean that genuinely–that she’s not learned that lesson before this.

I’ll be interested to see how this shapes her writing going forward.

Getting Up to Something

My brother is coming to visit for his birthday which is a lovely, pleasant surprise. I’m thinking of taking Friday off just to bum around with him. But I want to find something cool to go bumming around with him about. I may try to take him to Lock One Park. And I do mean to get out to the Buchanan Log Cabin. Ha, my poor brother is always getting sucked into book related research with me.

I hope I don’t fall into a grave this time.

I had a discussion with him about the whole “Why are my parents driving your child to North Carolina?” issue and, except that my mom overheard and got mad because I called my parents “obviously unable to make good decisions for themselves,” it went well. It turns out that he did NOT push the child-delivery off onto my parents but found it lifted out of his hands by my dad, which lines up with my observations on the trip.

So, I don’t know. It’s a tough thing. My parents are completely mentally competent. They’re young, especially considering that my mom’s mom is still alive, and they can, indeed, make these trips. I just worry. I also see that they’re really, really struggling with being retired, that they’re kind of aimless and, other than going to the gym every day, don’t really have anything to structure their lives around. And my heart goes out to them about that, but I’m not sure what to encourage them to do. The second my mom retired was the second they stopped talking about moving to Georgia to be near my brother. So, I don’t know if the reality of it being possible made them decide they didn’t want to do that or what.

I’m a little afraid that they don’t know what they want to do. My dad believes he was called into the ministry–literal voice said “Go do this.”–and I kind of feel like he’s lost and waiting for God to tell them what to do next. And God’s not talking. My mom’s pretty practical. I don’t imagine that’s engendering any kind of crisis of faith for her. She probably figures this is the time they have to figure out what they want to do for themselves. But my dad has recurring experience with people who have authority over him not protecting him. So, I really hope he’s not experiencing this transition as God being done with him.

And I hope this is the kind of thing he has someone to talk to about who gets it.

It’s funny. On our trip, we were talking about The Redheaded Kid and his family and how I get the feeling that they’re really struggling with how to adjust to the idea that he’s going to live to be an old man instead of dying before he’s thirty and I was saying that it seems like someone–maybe the hospitals or some religious organization–should have support groups for people who get life-altering good news. I mean, I was even thinking that people whose kids are in NICU and it’s all grim, grim, grim and then suddenly there’s a miracle and their baby gets to come home. It seems like it would be nice if there was a group for folks to talk to. Like a support group you might only need for a little bit.

I was thinking of this because before my dad had his heart surgery, a bunch of men who had been through similar surgery came by the house and told him what to expect and warned him he’d feel weirdly depressed about 6 weeks out so they were all going to come by and check on him again then. They just came up with this idea and did it themselves. And it’s not like living through a bypass is something you need a regular support group for, but damn, it made a big difference to him to have folks who’d been through it warn him about some of the weirdness of it.

I wish he and my mom had a group like that for retired ministers.

And I wonder if I should make my brother a cake? He’ll be 35. That’s a big year, right?

The Dog Practices Breaking My Heart

I have a story to tell you about last night. Part of it is disgusting, though I think other pet owners (and possibly parents) will be like “How else are you supposed to find a dog/child in the dark?!” That’s your warning.

So, you’ll remember that the dog has been on probation since she ran off on me a few weeks ago (and her “running off” apparently consisted in running away to the back door after taking a brief detour, possibly into the neighbor’s yard). Well, last night, at like two in the morning, she was crying in the hallway. I thought that meant that she couldn’t get into the Butcher’s room to sleep, but it went on and on and on. So, I got up to go to the bathroom and assess the situation, since I couldn’t sleep through it, and she sprinted to the back door. I mean, was making like dolphin-leaps through the house to get to the back door.

I was like, “Oh, an emergency.” And I’m half asleep. So, I opened the door and let her out. Into the dark. In the rain. Without my glasses on. And she’s not wearing a collar, so I can’t hear if she’s nearby. Minutes drag by. I’m standing in the doorway in my pajamas. Rain is pouring down (and the dog hates rain). I am calling for her, “Mrs. Wigglebottom! Mrs. Wigglebottom!” and nothing. I go back into the house and get my glasses, some sandals, my coat, and a flashlight. I’m staggering around in the yard, convinced that she’s not coming because the last time she tried to come to the back door when she was lost, I behaved like a raving lunatic. Not that staggering around in my yard at two in the morning in the rain isn’t behaving like a raving lunatic. So, then, I just lose it. I’m sobbing in the rain in the back yard because I have lost my dog, who hates me, and has just been waiting for a chance to run away to nice people.

I’m trying to get it together enough that I can go in and tell The Butcher that I lost the dog.

When I smell the pungent odor of a steaming pile of dog shit. I mean, I’m talking it smells like, if I haven’t stepped in it, I’m about to. Either that or someone is pooping on me. So, I look down. I’m flashing the flashlight all over for signs of the poop. I flash it back toward the house. And who is stuck behind the trash cans, trying to get back to the house? Mrs. Wigglebottom.

I think she came out, pooped a colossal disgusting poop, made a beeline straight back to the house to try to get under the eaves and then back to the door in relative dryness. But the trash can was too close to the house and she didn’t want to get back out in the rain, so she just stood there, stuck, while I played Chapel Hill Lights out in the back yard, with every faith that I would eventually find her.

Honestly, I don’t think I deserve that kind of faith.

But hot damn, I was relieved that there she was.

I think it kind of scared the shit out of her, too, because she’s being all clingy this morning.