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Three Good Things

Returning to Antisocial Media feels a little daunting so I'm going to borrow a format from Greg Pak's blog ( post about three good things each day. Simple but load-bearing, and hopefully a good way to rebuild the habit of putting my words on my own site rather than Facebook or Bluesky. And I know from experience that I can let big schemes and dreams become barriers to actually doing the thing (whatever "the thing" might be), so starting small and flexible gives me a better shot at sustainability.

So! Three Good Things:

1. Cats. 

Sarah and I were cat-owners before kids, in that the cats were very much kid-precursors. Their names were Charlie and Lizzie, and we adopted them from a fancy dog-collar store on Piedmont Ave in Oakland, where the clerk ran an amateur rescue operation out of the display window. These two tiny little fluffy tennis-ball kittens adopted us, and we had them for five or six years. Charlie was a decent-sized gray doofus that people mistook for a Russian Blue, and Lizzie was a lithe jet-black acrobatic livewire. 

Charlie died from some kind of pericarditis - the pressure on his heart did bad things to his breathing and fluids, and he couldn't stop yowling and peeing, and our vet said he needed to be put to sleep. There was an emergency animal hospital at the end of our block in Oakland (49th St) and I carried him there in my arms, full-on sobbing as I walked with Charlie leaving a trail of pee behind us all down the sidewalk. 

I stayed holding him as they did the injections and felt his breathing and heart stop. A few weeks later they sent us his ashes and some little paw print molds they must have made after I stumbled my way out of the hospital back towards home.

Lizzie was not okay without Charlie, and especially had a hard time being home alone when Sarah and I worked. Her vocabulary of displeasure consisted of pooping ostentatiously outside of the litter box. A few months before we left California to return to the Midwest we found a new home for her, a childfree couple with a husband who worked from home full time doing computer stuff. I hope she's happy and content.

So now almost ten years later, and with kids who are old enough (9, 11, and 13) to take turns scooping the litter box, and whose accidental experience with tortoise ownership was up ultimately unsatisfying, somehow the pieces fell into place to look into adopting cats. In one of the classic parenting blunders, when our eldest suggested one Sunday morning a few weeks ago that we, "go check out the local Humane Society, just to see what it's like," we did not prep an exit plan or otherwise defend against the inevitable, and sure enough found ourselves walking out of the building with an agreement to pick up "Trip" the following afternoon.

The rest of the day was a scramble as we bought the cat stuff we figured we needed, brought our erstwhile tortoise, grumpy ol' Thor to the local reptile pet store to be removed, and cleaned the hell out of our house; and the following evening we brought home the softest and sweetest one year old orange tabby, now renamed Leo after a favorite character from the Percy Jackson books.

Leo settled in immediately and seamlessly, but two cats had been the plan from the start and Sarah got focused on the local shelter websites so that we could pounce on any promising new 6-9 month-old arrivals. And so it was that this past Tuesday evening, as I was laid out on the living room couch sick as a dog from food poisoning, we welcomed a rail-thin brown tabby into the downstairs playroom (the thinking being to keep him and Leo separated, but able to see each other through the glass of the door, and smell each other from under the gap at its bottom). The shelter was calling him Stanley, but I kept hearing "Stan Lee," and when we started talking about renaming him I suggested Jack, in honor of the King of Comics, Jack Kirby.

Today we decided to see if they could handle meeting one another, and it's going pretty well! No fights, barely any hissing/growling, and many times when they seemed comfortable enough to lie down within eyesight of one another. It's not the bonded pair scenario we'd experienced with Charlie and Lizzie, but I'm hopeful that their two distinct but similarly sweet personalities will help them warm to one another. And hopefully once Jack has a little meat on his bones he will mellow out on the plaintive "feed me" meowing that starts five minutes after each feeding. Most important, the kids are so thrilled and it is just a delight to watch them caring for the cats and one another. 

Actually no, the most important thing is that I held the line and neither of them ended up being called "Scrimbleshanks" despite my 11 year old's pleas.

I'll keep the second two things a little shorter:

2. A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K LeGuin.

Thanks to a Bluesky character called "Minor Mobius" I returned to Earthsea for the first time since middle school with this first book of LeGuin's epic saga: The Boy Who Fucked Around and Found Out.

LeGuin's writing is awfully clear and unfussy, and the inevitability of Ged's hubris leading him into bad places hangs delicately over the first three chapters of the book like a lace shroud. It's definitely written in language accessible to a middle schooler, but wow I was reading a different book then than I am now. In particular I remember feeling peeved that Ged became less and less powerful as the series went on, and I'm looking forward to seeing how that dynamic hits me as a middle aged Dad whose edges are being relentlessly worn away by the world.

3. "LoCKeDoWN2", by Meute.

My friend Arvina shared this on Facebook a few days ago and I am proper obsessed:


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