September 26, 2013

Awful Moment of Awareness

Your spouse is ill. A couple of weeks after she’s been on serious meds that keep her nauseous and on an old person’s sleep schedule, there’s this moment. It comes around 8:15 or so when you look over and see that she’s asleep already, again. That’s when you realize that you feel a little lonely and maybe being able to finally watch that crime film or the first season of the British horror series or that depressing sci-fi film from the 70s  isn’t as much fun as you thought it would be, and you feel a little bad for all those days you wished she’d leave you alone for a night so you could do whatever the hell you wanted to do.

That’s when you’re really struck with some eye-opening perspective on why you should be present and fully engaged in the moment.

The hard part, I think, the part I have trouble with, is to be present and engaged with every moment, because that awful moment of awareness, that moment of loneliness, is just as important.

September 25, 2013

Pugs Don't Chew

Killer, The Pug
Last Saturday, I was in the kitchen doing the dishes. The lovely wife was on the couch, trying to deal with her nausea from an upped methotrexate dose, and our pug was chewing a bone. I finished the first sinkful and had started scrubbing the pans when my wife called my name and yelled that the dog was choking.

I came in expecting him to just barf it up and figured I’d snatch the soggy bit away before he tried to eat it, again. This happens all the time--he’s a pug and they don’t like to chew.

After a couple of seconds watching him hunkered over, trying to cough it out, and his slinking around the carpet getting faster and more frantic, it quickly became obvious that that wasn't going to happen.

It was stuck.

I grabbed the phone so the wife could call the vet. By then, the dog had really started gasping and hacking, his tongue was changing colors, and ropes of foamy slaver came out of the sides of his mouth.

Not knowing what else to do, I grabbed the pug, pried open his mouth, and reached my fingers down his throat. I could feel the bit of chewbone and tried to move it. That sent him really panicking, panicking enough that he lost control of his bowels, then bit me pretty hard.

The wife relayed a couple of other suggestions from the vet, but none of them or my quick Google search did anything but send the pug into a worst, gasping panic and get me peed on.

So, without any other choice, it was 200 miles per hour to the vet. I don’t know how I didn’t get pulled over. I was covered in fluids, flying down the highway, driving on the shoulder honking my horn, and yelling at slow cars. The lovely wife was so tired from her methotrexate that she could barely function and didn't even have shoes on, but she held the dog and when he stopped breathing a couple of times in the car, but she managed chest compressions, doggie heimlich, and throat massages enough to get him and then keep him breathing.

We got to the vet and they took care of him right away. After just a couple minutes, Mr. Killer was back in our room and just fine.

When we got home, both the wife and I had our freak-out time. As rough as it was for me, I’ve never had something living that I cared about almost die in my arms, I can’t imagine what it was like for my wife.

The lessons I’ve tried to take from it are:
  • An overlooked gift that pets give us is the reminder to be present. Once it was over, the dog wasn’t bothered at all. he drank some water, took a nap until it was time to eat, sniffed around outside for ten minutes, then went back to napping.
  • The lovely wife and I make a good team. That's probably why we've made it 13 years come October.

September 13, 2013

Blood on the Milky Way

Ever since I saw Mad Max on Channel 4 when I was in elementary school, I’ve had a weakness for the post-apocalyptic genre. I remember, it aired on a Friday, so my mother actually let me stay up late and watch the whole thing. Even edited for television and badly-dubbed, after that first chase scene, I was hooked on the series and the genre (I’m even looking forward to Mad Max 4: Fury Road with Tom Hardy).

I suppose, then, it’s rather fitting that my first published post-apocalyptic story should take place in Australia. Set in the world of Andrez Bergen’s Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat, “Blood on the Milky Way” is about the illegal milk trade in Melbourne, the last city on earth. Think Robert Mitchum’s Thunder Road meets Mad Max, only the souped-up automobile is loaded down with milk instead of whiskey.

It was a story that was a lot of fun to write and I think it’ll be a lot of fun for you to read. If the premise of my story interests you at all, I really hope you’ll check it out. And if it doesn’t, you should still check it out—the anthology is chocked full of a wide variety of stories by a host of great writers.

September 11, 2013

Blade of Dishonor


You are 12 years old.

It’s your dad’s weekend. He buys a large meat pizza and a six pack of root beer, the kind that comes in those bottles that make it look like real beer. You convince him to rent a VHS tape from the grocery store. He lets you pick and you chose a direct-to-video Golan-Globus ninja flick.

It’s the coolest thing you’ve ever seen.

Before your father returns it, you watch it 32 ½ times: reading the credits, memorizing dialogue, and mastering when to hit pause for the best look at the hot redhead.

On Monday, after your mom’s new boyfriend drops you off at school, you tell all your buddies about it: a samurai sword in the hero’s uncle’s  pawnshop leads to an international showdown with ninjas and yakuza (you explain that’s the Japanese Mafia and your friends nod in awe) and they must have used real ninjas because no one could fake that stuff.

You leave off the part about how someday you want to marry that redhead.


You are in your 30s.

You never forgot that movie, but are convinced you’ll never seen it again….until your wife gives you the newly-released Blu-Ray for your birthday. You thank her profusely and tell yourself again that marrying her was the best thing you ever did, which makes it easier when you watch it and you break down in tears because it’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen and what happened to the movie you remembered!?!?!

Well, it never existed.

Until now, and you can thank Thomas Pluck.



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