On Dogs and Death

Both my dogs 8 and 10 died roughly within a year of each other, tragically and abruptly. Dante the old boy just two weeks ago. I think the cheap food from Wal-Mart, Old Roys, is what killed them, gave them cancer.

Cujo, the younger dog just quit walking one day. Then miraculously started walking again, and then stopped again. We watched him for several weeks deteriorating on our kitchen floor. I would wrap a towel under his back legs and carry him in and out the house. He’d piss and shit all over himself and me. Left me a hysterical, broken mess. Cried like a broken child daily. Finally I took him to the vet one sunny, beautiful spring day, hysterically crying. Like a Stone played on the radio, a devestating, yet significant synchronicity. The song had always struck me to my core, as terribly profound, and songer Chris Cornell had just comitted suicide.

Vet tech, based on my tear filled expression told me it must be my first one (it was). I wanted to spit in her face. Afterwards, I stood there awkwardly trying to compose myself to pay the fucking bill, the absurdity, a hundred some bucks to kill your dog.

Dante was fine until one day a couple weeks ago he just stopped eating, and then got super lethargic. Stupidly, we thought maybe he just had worms or something, so we took him to the vet. They did a bunch of tests, told us his kidneys were shutting down, were at near death levels. Gave him shots to maybe pep him up, took our money, said to call on Monday.

Oh, and this is so fucked up. Right before he went downhill, my wife decided to get a puppy. I have a deep, dangerous love for dogs, but after Cujo’s death I couldn’t imagine getting another one. Time had sort of softened that, but I still wasnt ready though. I punted on the issue, told my wife if she wanted one and was prepared to do the majority of work I was ok and could do my part.

We named him Cash, after Johnny, because he’s all black. He’s a Husky/Lab mix and has different colored eyes. We thought it would be good to introduce old dog and new dog, give old boy a buddy, get him moving again. Then he took that turn for the worst.

After the torture with Cujo we realized we couldnt let Dante suffer like that. That we had let it go on too long for our own sake. And if a dog cant be a dog there’s no point in keeping it going yada, fucking yada. He just got worse that week after the vet visit. And one night while I was petting him, he rested his head in my palm, and told me the way dogs do, that he was going and it was okay, and he loved me and was sorry, but resigned to it.

It’s so messed up to say in a sense, but that old boy was like the foundation of my whole adult life and family. My wife and I got him in the early years of our dating, and during an extra-rocky bit of that, it’s my irrational attachment to dogs which seemed to make separation an impossibility to me (I’ll spare you the tragic explanation of that for now). And now nine years later, three kids, all that life, he was saying it was time to go.

We were gonna go that Monday. I said I would take him, no problem, but really it’s so fucking awful, if she wanted to take the licking I wouldnt fight her on it. She said she would. That Sunday night was bad for him. I laid with him under the kitchen table, and held him, whispering it was okay, that he was okay. That he was a great boy, and I understood he had to go. And it seemed to relax him. Give him some rest.

That Monday morning my two older boys got on the bus to school. And my wife got our little one ready for pre-k and then was gonna call the vet and take him up there. But then he started shaking, cramping up, whimpered and cried. Tried to get up, adjust, but couldn’t. I held his head again in my hands, told him I loved him, and it was ok, just go ahead, go to your rest.

My wife and son scrambled around. And then he was gone. I sat there and touched his now souless body. Felt his heart beat petter out. Had the insane hope that maybe I could still feel it. Knew better of course and nurse wife confirmed. Eventually, I grabbed some more towels to clean up the puddle of piss and cover him up, so my wife could take the lil one to school.

Sat there for a few minutes, crying, laying my head on him. Then I went outside. It was another beautiful morning. An early winter crisp was present, but sunny and clear skies. This time I didnt resent the day for its beauty, but appreciated it while I dug a hole for him at the back of the property. There was something about that dirt, digging it, shoving my hands into it, bringing it up to my nose, smelling it, that didnt make it better, but some how made me understand…ashes to ashes, dust to dust, dirt to dirt.

The hole was dug by the time she got back. I carried his stinking, stiff corpse to the hole and awkwardly stuffed him in there, and we worked together covering him up. We planted a hazelnut tree on top, but some critter got it that night.

I came in stripped my clothes off, showered. Went back to my bed and laid there. We made love later that morning. Desperate, needy love-making, like our relationship itself, something, anything, that could stop the hurt, but it never does. It just dulls it. Makes it manageable in the moment, but worse in the end.

I love goddamn dogs. Too much. Like women and the world itself. I would give up karmic evolution to go back to being a dog. To run, and play, fight and fuck, without reservation. To not over analyze. To be brave and loyal. To be one with the world. One with myself.

On Writing (My Only Refuge)

It’s been a spectacular month or so (life-time really). I’ve burned so many bridges recently. And at the end of it all, I’ve come back to what I’ve always known, that writing is my only hope. I wish I could say I felt bad for burning all those bridges, but the exact opposite is true. I felt more alive then I have felt in years. I found the flames beautiful, loved the sound of crashing concrete, huffed the smell as it rebounded back on me. And more then anything I loved that the people on the otherside finally looked alive, were moving again, scrambling, often with flashes of a sly lil smirk. Admittedly, that both infuriates and thrills me.

It infuriates because I wonder why didnt they just join me in the first place, if they wanted it like I did. And thrills for the same reason. The thing in me is in them. We will all dance joyfully at the bonfire at the end of the world.

About a month ago, I finally let loose on my absentee Father. Called him names, expressed my outrage and frustration with ranty blocks of texts. Decimated every excuse and rationalization he tried to roll out. My decades of analysis, in his absence, had over-prepared me in this feat. In the end, he was just a puddle of apologies. The only thing I felt bad about was that I didnt sponge that puddle up and incinerate it, that I let it crawl away and recoagulate. But the proverbial gloves are off and there’s something beyond liberating in that.

Now I hunt for new meat to chew on. But it’s hard to find. An old friend was delivered by God today, but he proved much softer and less substantive then he had always boasted. And his weak punting on the whole thing, only inflamed the spirit more. Which as the smoke settled, and I stood there under the black sky and the stars dangled, I was reminded that words are my only refuge.

Here I will make my stand. Scream into the great abyss, until that thing finally wakes up and addresses me directly. And finally I may have something to chew on.

7-26-18 How does it feel? On Fathers, Pascal’s Wager, Not listening. Repetition. Philosophical Jim-Jam. Key of Am.

How does it feel? When you do what you do I mean? Your job? Your children? Your Spouse? Your life?

If you’re like me I suspect you would have to say good and bad, mas y menos, Yin-Yang. Couldn’t be otherwise, it seems. But still the question is left there dangling? What (who) decides the difference? This is where the words would come pouring in, the history and the poetry, the feelings, chains of causation, a whole dense, rock-like world of cause, determining your effect? Or is it affect?

I’ve always felt the later, but am surprised when I discover it’s the former. Makes me think of that argument with my Dad, years ago. Think it was a minor holiday, someones birthday. Somehow I found myself challenging everyone with the flaws in the free-will argument. How when we take a seemingly physical phenomena like a ball rolling down a hill, the angle of the hill, possible resistance, shape of the ball, gravity, they all obviously determine how the ball will behave.

Biology seems a bit more complicated, yet the habits of most animals seem to us pretty regular (there’s the crux of the argument “seems”). And further look at our own lives, parents, time and local, varying statuses, preconstructed ideologies, how we make our own valuations and decisions. How much wiggle room do we really have?

Of course the wise elders quickly fall-out of this sort of debate. Seemed like it probably sounded like Martian, hippy-dippy bullshit to their generation. My Dad took the bait though, probably out of shared genetic instinct (my own biological Grandpa is not in the picture, likely because he would of took the bait!)…I’m really just talking to myself. But he got genuinely bothered by it. And then I think even more bothered by the resolve of my convictions, even my learning? Yeah, that was it. Somehow Pascal’s Wager got brought into it. The idea that even if God wasn’t true, shit was so heavy it was better just to error on the side of caution, to go with it.

I’d made the mistake of labeling it. And then producing a number of counter-arguments and solutions. I had been deep in atheism and apologetics, well beyond the straw-man college boy argument my Dad was attempting. And that’s what got him, I think. I had Alphad him in a way he hadn’t expected…He drove off that day all angry, after we wrestled ourselves outside to the cars, picking at eachother. I remember (I believe correctly, who knows) that I texted him right away. Apologizing, being the “bigger-man”, out of fear of him not talking to me, leaving it like that for too long.

He called me Master the other day. As we worked at clearling a patch on the back acre. He was having trouble getting the weed-whacker going. Had tried to ignore my suggestion that it needed some more gas, and even after filling it had trouble getting it going.

I explained, as I kneeled to get it goin. After it was off for a minute, you had to go through the whole start-up routine again, choke, press the gas primer thing, pull, wait, pull. I feel like he’s always not hearing me. No, hearing, but not listening, but then listing DEEPER thab you could EVER listen!!

I realize I do it too, with my wife. With my kids. What else am I not hearing?

Confession (On Catholicism and HealthCare)

The modern medical physical is an updated form of the Catholic sacrament of Confession. I went to a Catholic grade school and High School, with a brief sojourn freshman year at the public school.

That decision to jump schools was multifaceted. Priest, principal, and a guidance counselor attempted to press me about the sacrament of Confirmation, the ritual wherein a Catholic confirms their personal belief in the religion, and is official-official in the cult from then on, in the 8th grade. One of my proudest moments, was telling this gang to kick rocks. My true confirmation of Grace, I know now (and then I guess?).

My Mom was divorcing my step-Dad, and our poverty and her clear Jezebel spirit, I believe marked us with that gang. We’d been marked for a while though, I suppose, so it shouldn’t have been a suprise. And yet, it always is, isn’t it? This divorce was partly why I made the jump to public school too. Some self-inflected wound of immaturity, and commonsense. How would we afford to send me to the private school? I’d end up sneaking my way back to the Catholics (non-confirmed) through a “scholarship”‘ for the debate program Sophomore year. Note, the Catholics are great free-lancers.

Anyway, point is, I’d always sensed a lack of flavor, or should I say culture to the public school system, and really the gentile public in general. It seemed to lack a certain something to me, which I know now understand was its cultic, and occultic systems, and accoutrements. The singing and chanting, costumes, incense, drama, and the freak outs.

I realized today post-physical, while strumming my milestone-like Squire telecaster, that the modern check up really does have it origin in ancient ritual and spiritual/superstitious beliefs, just like them Catholics. The whole thing the pregame rituals, the signing in, the attendants, the silent (except for the background noise of the TV, which in these times is the equivalent of the bubbling brook), which allows reflection and excuse making, space for the coming cognitive dissonance, and morever the pre-pregame ritual, of the night and weeks before, what illnesses and ailments will one declare, or attempt to medigate with good behavior. The anxiety and anticipation of judgement. The inherent power relationship and the salvation that comes with it.

Your Doctor can only treat, what you acknowedge and admit. What you confess. We like this. It’s parental. The Dr. is a subsitute, for you and the thing on high, an intermediary. It’s interesting, because I still got that raging spirit to resist. Basically the only time I will go the Dr. are for these “Wellness”‘ check-ups for our insurance, which saves us 80bucks a month. My Dr. today was nice enough. A colleague of my wife, she had insured I would like his style and I did.

He acknowledged that in my case, it was basically just a hello, but that the point of this check-up was maybe to catch a guy in his mid-thirties (me! that crafty fox!), who veins are starting to chunk up with platelets, and get them on something to help them out, before he’s fifty and dead. I smiled with him, nodded along in agreement. When he was done I said, “well hate to a throw a wrench in your plans there Sir, but I was planning on not doing those labs today. Be honest with ya, just not in the mood to be poked or proded.”

These are the moments that give my spirit an invaluable tingle, the moment when that curtain gets pulled back on Oz, busting those lights on mid-ritiual, sitting there right in the middle of confession, staring that priest in the eye, and saying hey man what about all these other religions, what about all of them that never heard of Christ?

The Dr. smiled said Oh, Ok. I explained it wasn’t I’d never do it. And I’d done it before. Actually had high levels, but then I tightened up diet and stuff, and my levels were fine. And really truth was, nothing in them numbers could make me anymore serious about my own health, body, then I already was. So not today. I’d prefer not.

It was all good. He still hit me with the stethoscope, checked my throat glands, pressed on my stomach, squeezed my ankles. Indignities I endured, with small amounts of discomfort. As usual ritual tricked me into confessing a patch of eczema on my leg, but I recovered with the reflection that it was all good, and that eczema was basically an umbrella term for fuck-all, and if they weren’t going to chop it off, I’d prolly be all right. By the end, he thanked me for an interesting conversation and visit.

6-30-18 On The Rooster,

Kept hearing a cockle-doodle-doo (more like oaoaoaoaaaahhh) from chicken island. I ulimately ordered pre-sexed chicks because it was cheaper without the extra couple roosters, and also because we were attempting to take it step by step so the process ofndealing with brooding and pontential baby chicks all the time seemed a little too much this year. We had to get the electric fences up, build a chicken tractor, move the first twelve out, and later intergrate the two generations.

I chose a heritage breed called the Speckled Sussex. I’m really like how the birds look, like Jackson Pollock spent a weekend being ornery with em. I was thinking a rooster was afoot, so I had started staring at them a bit more. One of their bright, irredescent blue-green oil-sheens, caught my attention. There were other signs of a cock, Gallus Domesticus, an erect and bright red comb, overall size, a classical strut. These noticeable detail were improved and confirmed via the internets.

I discovered that a rooster will have more pointed feathers, while a hens are rounded at the end. The male will also have a bushier neck. And of course sharper and larger back claws, spurs.

To discover if an egg has been fertalized one must take a strong light beside it and determine whether it is clear or opaque. I did, but it was hard to tell what from what. Except for one, where it gone cloudier, and there the primitive first place a single lil red dot of cell swirled.

The rooster offeres a real-world introductory dialogue about love-making with the children. The love touch. Male and Female. Like Mom and Dad. Like You.

I wish you could have seen my sunset last night. Perspective through the bubbling hills of the horizon, it wore a crown as it set. Endless beams to infinity. Champagne hues, oranges and blues, golden-yellow, saucer center, sort of like an egg…

6-20-18 On Chickens, The Rain, 1997 Honda Odyssey, Stephen King Netherworlds

If I don’t get out early enough to feed the chickens, they start coming out of the electric fence. We must be grounding out somewhere, but all the fiddling hasn’t seemed to fix it. They all sneak back in though, once the food is out, but having 30-some chickens squawking at ya, chasing you around the yard every morning can be anxiety inducing.

There’s been a bit of civil strife in chicken land. Early in spring, we moved the original dozen chickens out to the field, in a chicken tractor, to let the twenty-or-so teenage birds have the coop. Eventually the new chicks were big enough, and it was hot enough, so it seemed best to bring them together in the coop, which was shadier and easier to do all the chores together at once.

The OG girls were happy to be home, but not happy with what they deemed to be the squatters in their spot. I had to play rooster to the bunch during some early feedings, to discourage pecking. Some general state of equilibrium had set it, I believed. Yet some on both sides, show signs of tussling, nicks in their crops and such.

Routines are interesting, how they build up so much momentum. I realize that every morning, that it’s my unavoidable habit of feeding them, after they’ve run out, that ultimately reinforces the unwanted behavior. And then I’m able to step back and say, what’s really the harm? Rather, could I calm down in the moment? Let go of the absurd resentment of a creature foraging for their food. And just allow myself to let the moment be as it is.

They stop yelling when the food is finally distributed. They’re eating good on kitchen scrapes, cabbage Leaves, and all the weeds and things they can forage, or are tossed into them, so I know the morning swarm is unwarranted anxiety. I’ve developed the ability to identify a number of wild edibles, dandelions (easy one), nettles, lamb’s quartets, purslane, etc, and the chickens tear through all stuff too.

Two days of rain have it way cooled down, an ideal late stage spring day. And instead of watering, I got to weed one of two large raspberry patches, 50 new plants total, that we just started this spring. I collected and spread compost for those and some pepper plants, while Britney and the kids burned our papers. There was a moment there, with the orange fire coming out the side of the barrel and the setting blue sky, I thought to myself, this is paradise. I couldn’t ask for anything else. I don’t deserve this. Grace made this.

Stayed cloudy til dark. All those blues and whites. Dark spots of the storm. Swirling whites cloud, thick lines of the painter’s brush.

The skies went that ominous grey-green last Thursday. Got caught out in it, picking the boys up from reading group at the library. Our 1997 Honda Odyssey, is an archeological phenomena. Mostly Mechanically reliable, yet defrost remains one of its greatest flaws. The rain, hail and four anxious breathers had us in a thick, Stephen King-like netherworld, at sixty out on the deep country highway. Had to demand the oldest boys shirt, which he struggled with in the thick milieu. Making it to our turn somehow, we found our gravel road deteriorating with thick rivers in the ditches, rolling with glorious and destructive tan water. This rain is everything. Even in the danger zone, we were grateful.

2-8-18 (a brief sketch of self, on the failure of language, and irony, reluctantly released, too much slip showing)

And it’s all just words, empty phrases and utterances. A man struggling not to drown, is what a writer (person?) is. But all that verbal flailing seems to be the core of the problem. All these extra words are just bad techniques which have to be abandoned in the next attempt. Just an endless sowing of existential angst, a tone which escalates in feverish pitch, but never hits that ceiling, never climaxes.

I’ve been learning Spanish. Do it on duo-lingo on my phone. It’s fun and I can just tear through the exercises, the same strength and weakness of intuitive ability at play. . You can feel the shared history of words from the morphing collective feel of them. Peace, Paz, Pax, Pace.

You know about the Tower of Babel? Ah, fuck it. Point I was going to make was about how language fails us at its critical task, namely talking to one another. Because there’s always this gap of language and inner psychology, that obscures shared understanding. You don’t know what the words mean, objectively or subjectively to the other person, or really to yourself either.

What attracted me to words early on has soured and now often repulses. I was trying to figure “it” out. The whole pie, in and out, and the words were a safe and more importantly available way to get at the thing. But now they’ve not satiated, yet left their remnants, and they’ve warped the vessel.

Not broken, note, just warped. To the point they can just pour and pour and fill and fill, and the original hexagonal spout, from having been turned so many times, has worn round and in the flood it can be hard to find and grip it. What’s worse (better?) is you’ve grown amphibious, developed gills and you can make it work underwater, but other can’t, and they start to pull away for air.

11-16-17 Philosophy Through Family (In Praise of Patriarchy)

 

A Musical Accompaniment

I love and hate mankind in portions which may seem unhealthy. That’s the thing, they’ve made the basic human experience abnormal. Normal activity, inexplicable wave like emotions and experiences, which prompt change and growth,  have become negative attributes. Disruption is the critical marker, but then everything is disruptive, isn’t it? The empty fuel tank light, the nutrient deficient belly after dinner, traffic, red lights, bosses, children.

Parenting is the template to understand everything, Nature, God, whatever you want to call it. It answers all wandering philosophical questions, most importantly God’s alleged apathy. It’s not that nature doesn’t care about us, it’s that we are evolving life forms, who begin life dependent, but must be wired to separate from this life-source and function “independently” and keep the goddam wheels on the thing. I guess, cause that’s the problem, there is an element of illusion in that, limits on free choice, limits on our true independence.

Male and female, and they are real things, provide the solution to the paradox. The positive and the negative give balance to the story. Comedy and Tragedy. Adults are rounded out, settled down through parenting. Patience. Principles. Purpose. These are skills you have to have for Nature to flower and flourish.

There is so much illness and insanity in our culture, you can’t help but analyze some of the basics things, food, sex, employment, and recognize these are the problem areas. As a Father, it seems only right that I view these things through often critical lens. And frankly, when I take that position, it immediately draws you into conflict with the world. Power. Patriarchy. Pride. Potential. Dangerous, possibly prohibited words these days.

It’s easy and right to slip into an US vs. Them mentality though, which objectively isn’t historically the best stuff, but frankly in the small social scale is fundamental.

You should hold your family above others. Or even more yourself above the general thing. I remember that demented thought experiment (that’s basically the best of philosophy, imagine nightmare scenarios and make deductions from them) presented in some college ethic course, imagine you’re on the Titanic, shit goes down, and everyone’s drowning, you see your one kid floating away one direction, but there are like twelve other kids close by, drowning on a bit of wardrobe, who you could save immediately, but then your own kid’s gets a seat in Davy Jones’ locker. What do you do?

No question for me. I’m going for my kid. And curse the boat builder and god itself as I did it, and forever. But it can’t be any other way and it isn’t. More or less we all recognize, there’s nothing we can really do about “it”, is there? What’s worse, this problem is what has society at large in the tank. And it’s because from some quarters (rich and familial) has come the argument of over-population, and the value and pleasure in narcissistic mores of life. Which in reality amounts to shitty television, shitty food, and jerking off. But these apparently are enough, until inevitably they’re not, and so we try to drag the old crusty, models, the skeletons now, out of the heap in the backyard, but they don’t stand right, and we don’t have the tools, nor skills to build them again. Shit…can someone get a six-pack, maybe stop at Mcdonalds, maybe pick Grandpa up from the home, he loves tinkering with this shit….

8-30-16 (Reflections on Dreams, Goals, Executive Function)

My kids are really the coolest thing ever. I don’t brag about them much. Not good when you got a banshee tracking ya. You learn it’s good to be humble. Hell, be down right superstitious. That’s a good word, isn’t it? Knocking on wood, that’s one I got heavy. Can’t make any self-positive prediction of the future without knocking on some real wood. Keep your filthy jokes to yourself.

I don’t want to rant, whine, add to the din as it were. I think that’s why I haven’t posted much here lately, this impulse to go on a rant, and be negative is too strong. I’m tired of it. Tired of talking and analyzing. Tired of thinking. There’s this overgrown path in my front yard. A couple of crazy invasive tree, limb things grew like twenty feet high. The forest of these invasive saplings provided the perfect frame for this crazy beautiful vine thing, so we just let it all go wild. I realized though that maybe it was blocking my afternoon sun, casting a shade on the pepper patch. I liked the privacy it offered, an organic hedge blocking the view of the neighbors, but then I have a hard time keeping tack of my kids in the jungle, and the hedge is just another giant thing they can hid in. Also, I want to reclaim the space for the garden too, so for the last couple days I hacked it up, shoved it into the compost bin. I loved that, just hacking and chopping, thinking minimally, sweating, doing work. That’s how I feel like handling things.

For the last month or longer this vision of selling our city house and going full country became an obsession. The urge to run, to restart, to reclaim a “simpler” life had us hunting properties, and talking to realtors, bankers. When you’re poor everything becomes a numbers game, get the whole feeling of robbing Peter to pay Paul, and that adds to the confusion. We began to realize that our current house is probably our one strong financial asset (as opposed to the crippling student-loan debt) and its didn’t really make sense gambling that on a country life, which would be a crazy amount of work and resources. We have a two year plan to get out of all credit card, and other short term debt. That was always a priority in our mind, but as we got right down to it, as in listing our house, we realized that it just wasn’t smart. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. We have a life right now that works, pretty well. A place of employment that’s close, bills payed, school the boy likes, big enough yard and ability to urban homestead. Another huge point was the fact that staying on our current path allows us to put any extra funds towards fun activities and travel. That became the big final realization, it’s not about things, but about experiences.

Using my “executive function” that’s an idea and phrase I’ve been using frequently in my rants to Britney. Point being that as a parent, a leader of the family you have got to think in this emotionally detached, best outcomes approach. In the familial enterprise it’s not just your dreams or wants that matter. For some that probably reads obvious, but I think being part of the divorced kids generations the problem of egos and values was something I’ve had to give a lot of thought too. Moreover failures in both, are patterns I’m still really working hard to develop out of. Having honor, self-control, dignity, these almost feel like outdated, or even mean words. I think that’s a problem.

I got to stop it there. The force of the rant is just too strong, and the keys make it too easy. I think that’s the problem. The journal format works when you have to push all this drivel out by the force of your own hand. The technology takes the real work and punishment out of it. Thanks technology.