Day Five: Inside the Outside of the Dog’s Inside World

Project Stats:

4,619 of 90,000 words complete (5.13%)

In Anointed, one of the many lengthy ramblings I utilize to open a chapter has something to do with a dog’s perspective. I can’t really profess to know the first thing about a dog’s perspective, owing to my lack of being one, but not being something never kept a writer from writing about being one, so why should I be any different? Anyhoodles, it goes like this:

It is the general opinion of most compassionate and caring animal
enthusiasts that human beings are without heart in forcing dogs to be left to
suffer the elements of nature under a dilapidated structure of rotting wood and
rusty nails, if any is offered at all. Most often, they would say, this particular
brand of cruelty to these loyal, loving beasts of nature brings about irreparable
harm to the fragile psyche of the pooch in question. The dog becomes a
defeatist, a beaten spirit in a lonely world of dark shadows and torrential
downpours, and a borderline anemic amidst the brutal blood-sucking assault
of ticks, fleas and mosquitoes.
They would say this.
Dogs, on the other hand, have a much more personalized and simplistic
perspective. Outside is Inside, Inside is Outside; rain is a cooling gift from
heaven, a bath is the unbearable warmth of a liquefied hell; a petting is a
trolley ride through Pleasure, a brushing is open-eye surgery under the
unforgiving shear of a chainsaw; a tick or flea or mosquito is an unwarranted
annoyance, and a flea collar is an open invitation to a severe thrashing at the
paws of the three nomadic Dobermans down the road.
Dogs would say this.
And who would be right but the one holding the perspective?
After all, someone will always be at the mercy of another’s perspective,
whether it be at the hands of a well-meaning Master, or the seemingly
distraught, but actually carefree, antics of a dog Outdoors. Or
Indoors…perspectives accounted for, of course.

Seems rather egocentric to quote myself, but there you go.

Point is, everything is about perspective. For example, when working through a chapter, a clear perspective of all the facets of that particular beginning, middle and end, aren’t entirely clear until the last word is written. Today, as I rounded out Chapter Two of what is now called The Progenitor (Specimen A may become the title of a separate book, but who knows!), it occurred to me that my earlier perspective lacked all the necessary details. So I added them. A few line from Agatha’s mother, some clarification over what Ag’s motivation is, and some refining of The Incident with Justin that has her so out of sorts. Therefore, in that What-You-Read-Before-Still-Exists-On-Some-Level kind of thing, I present Chapter Two in completion, unedited. I have also included the a file for the whole manuscript, should you rather follow it that way (allowing you to read the previous chapter(s) as you go). Frankly, I’m not yet sure which is best. Only you know what you prefer. So let me know.

I admit to being intrigued by the development of Agatha’s story. She certainly has a lot to hide. Hopefully she’ll let me in on her secrets before I try to write about them. Oh, and because someone asked where the name came from: I was heavily inspired to write by two wonderful female authors, Judy Blume and Agatha Christie. So, I combined the two names, and put the other two in as characters she knows. Just one of those fun things I get to do as a writer to pay homage to those who inspired me.

As always, I welcome all input!

Chapter Two (Word)

Chapter Two .pdf

Progenitor Manuscript .pdf

The Little Bookstore That Couldn’t

The great thing about having a blog is I can damn well write whatever I want, and you can’t stop me. It’s glorious. If I want to talk about the redemptive quality of reanimated sidewalk-fried worms, I can. It won’t be interesting, but there you have it. I could talk endlessly about all the stupid things I’ve done in my life–and let it be known that I will–and all you can do is groan and tune it out, maybe grumble aloud about how annoying I am. But it will still exist. I can tell you that my dog is stretched over the edge of the couch right now, pining for the Moss to come home, looking like every ounce of hope has drained from her furry little frame, and no matter how that makes you feel, it’s written, done, the webbernuts will keep it forever. You can’t stop me.

And so, I get to do this:

On March 1st, 2009, Wordsmiths Books closed its doors, bringing to an end its short run, leaving behind but memories and a good bit of favorable view. Five years. It’s difficult to believe it’s been that long. Each year I’ve spent a little time on that anniversary offering thoughts, pictures, memories of the little bookstore that couldn’t. I’ve done this because I needed to. I’ve done this because, like a lost loved one, I wasn’t ready to let go. However, time has a way of mending the wound, leaving but scars as gentle reminders of what once was. And we move on.

I’m ready to move on. I’m ready to let go of all the things I might have been able to do to prevent that store from closing. From watching my bookstore family splinter and move on (with one notable exception). From haunting my dreams, nudging my guilt over those who lost money in the process, from tapping that nail ever so slightly into my heart day after day after day. Much like any endeavor in life, there is enough regret to fill a canyon. But that doesn’t change the outcome.

Which brings me to the purpose of this entry. I’m a couple days late on starting, due in part to the final grip of reluctance holding me back, so I’ll make up for it over the next couple days. What I’m going to do is post a picture, with a quick thought or two of the moment, each day until March 1st. I’m culling through the mountain of images that remain, and I apologize to any of you who may not want to be included in an image, or may not consider it the best you’ve had. These images are special to me, and, to that end, I’m not hunting for perfection. Only painful emotions attached to those memories that I can finally put to rest.

If you visited Wordsmiths, then thank you. If you did not, I’m sorry I couldn’t keep it around long enough. To those who wish, I invite you to leave your thoughts, here, on Facebook, or even Twitter (or all). I’d love to hear it.

This is me letting go, in the only way I know how to do it.

The first image is as first image as a first image can get, and requires the simplest of explanations. On June 15th, 2007, Wordsmiths Books opened its doors for the first time. I remember that day well, and I remember this moment like it just happened. I had a lot of hope then. I believed in the idea, and I believed in my staff. I had maneuvered through a great deal of political whooseywhatsit just to get to this point. Regardless of what I might have done different, it is, as my father would call it, a watermark day.

June 14th, 2007, I opened the door to the public for the first time.

June 15th, 2007, I opened the door to the public for the first time.

All Hail the Empress of Doom

The past nine days have been longer than normal.

That’s not a euphemism, nor is it a reference to the summer solstice. Neither is it an effort to recount the days as only Navin can. It’s a Puppy Thing. After much discussion, the Moss and I made the mistake of visiting some puppies in order to decompress and let go of some unwanted stress. Which, I suppose is to say, “normal stress”. It isn’t as if any stress is wanted, is it? Ah. Yes. True. I could edit that, but I’m not going to. You’re just going to have to deal with it, and take your aggression out on someone unsuspecting Violator of English who dares mention the phrase unwanted stress in your presence. It won’t affect me. I’m too tired. Right, so there we were, trying to let go of life’s Force Choke, when we willfully agreed to forgo sleep in exchange for the cutest ball of fur we’d ever seen. It didn’t happen quickly. We were there for four hours. Most of those four hours involved us staring at each other, perhaps desperately hoping the other had the will power to say no, while simultaneously ready to defend our right to make impetuous decisions about cute balls of fur thank you very much.

There was a lot of this:

“Well, what do you think?”

“I think she’s cute.”

“But what do you think?”

“I think we’re in trouble is what I think.”

That moment when you walk away, puppy in arms, backseat loaded down with crate, food, puppy vitamins, leash and collar/harness, eight million toys that either squeak four millions versions of ear-splitting pain or have beady black plastic eyes that are way too easy to chew off and potentially choke to death on, treats, puppy pads, bowls, the realization that MANY trips to the vet are in your future, and a stunned look of uneasy joy that says, “Dear God, we have a puppy and no true feel for whether or not we’ll survive it.”  That.

And it’s impossible not to be elated, despite the surviving unease with your ability to make rational decisions. At least until she pees on the carpet thirty minutes after you get her home. Or when she does it thirty minutes later. Or thirty minutes after that. And no matter how many times you tell yourself to be patient, she’s just a puppy, she’ll learn, no worries she’ll sleep through the night eventually, your wonderful glorious dream-laden nights of peaceful sleep are gone, perhaps forever. You begin to realize how much more your little bundle of fur is sleeping than you. Sure, you can attempt a nap during the day, but you do so with the knocking presence of fear that she’s emptied her bladder in her crate and is now swimming in a piddle puddle of piss. Which is an awful image, but hardly the matter that concerns you most. No, instead it occurs to you that you’re going to have to clean a pee sponge because you selfishly chose sleep over constant vigilance. So you bypass the nap in favor of staring at a blank wall, trying to remember the last time you wondered about Heffalumps and Woozles. You attempt to plan dinner, but decide hot dogs and mac n’ cheese has never sounded better. You stock up on wine.

Still, it’s just one night. So you only managed 3 hours sleep, one ear concentrating on any sound that might be a whimper of I Just Peed Oh No It’s Everywhere. So you haven’t been up at six in the morning in years. So you reach eleven in the morning wondering how the hell it isn’t four in the afternoon yet. It’s all good. You have a puppy! Isn’t she cute? Who cares if she’s peed everywhere except the pad? At this point, I should also mention that we’re in a fifth floor apartment. There’s a lengthy hallway to the elevator. So when I say she’s peed everywhere, I do feel justified in the exaggeration. Fortunately the property management is changing out the hallway carpet soon. Hopefully not too soon, but soon enough for me to feel fine and dandy in a shrug each time my squirmy little fur ball squats in the hall because she can’t wait for the elevator.

You begin to feel like it’ll never change. That the reminder of your life together will result in conversations you never thought you’d have.

“Does she have to pee? She looks like she has to pee?”

“How can you tell?”

“She’s sniffing everywhere. Oh God, she’s peeing!”

“No she isn’t. She just sat down to chew on her foot. Honestly, you don’t have to … oh, wait. Yup. Now she’s peeing.”

Days begin to drag along with the speed and deliberate insensitivity of that not-quite-handicapped person in the motorized cart at the grocery store. Sleep is an ever-elusive prod in your weary mind. You spend hours watching the puppy, circling her, waiting for the merest of twitches in the back legs that might indicate a new pee stain to clean. Every movement says, “I have to pee.” Every whimper has you reaching for the leash, and onward to another frustrating walk with no results. You’re edgy, impatient, feeling the life force drain away, realizing the harbinger of doom was, in fact, not the floppy-eared seven-pound creature of cuteness, but you and your reckless impulsive decision-making self. It never ends.

Then, one day, unprompted, she walks over to the pad and pees dead center. She walks to the door because she has to go. She stops waking up at three in the morning, maintaining her bladder until six. It’s not much, you admit, but it’s something. Three hours of sleep becomes five or six. You and your mind-weary partner can go to the store, leave her in the crate knowing she’ll just nap. You finally allow that you no longer both have to be up at the same time, and alternate sleeping late and taking naps. You still have to keep an eye on her, but the torment of the squeaky toy is now a blessing. You know where she is, at least. You only have to panic when the squeaking stops. So, instead of Defcon 3 Pee Alert, you downgrade to Defcon 3.

You almost relax.

She learns to sit. She kinda will stay, providing the treat is visible or you sound like Zeus issuing commands from Olympus. She has no idea what her name is, or why you insist on yelling at her when she runs from outstretched arms that will surely destroy her. She falls to the floor in a crumpled mess of despair, head on her paws, drifting into an emotional coma when you call her a Bad Girl. She gains a few pounds and suddenly she doesn’t fit as well in one hand. She greets you with unbridled excitement when you return from the other room, looking as though she feared you’d never return. She has little puppy dreams of psycho cats hissing at her around every corner, whimpering, kicking her furry feet. She shuts down into a deep sleep every time you rub her belly. She’s so warm you might just fall asleep with her.

Suddenly, six in the morning feels refreshing. You’re tired, but rested. You look at her, she looks at you, and you realize, no matter the cost, no matter the nature of the decision, it was worth it.

Molly, the Empress of Doom. Look into her eyes and she will own your soul.

Molly, the Empress of Doom. Look into her eyes and she will own your soul.