suspicious kitten


The face of the anxious kitten in my icon pretty well expresses how I feel right now. Next weekend we're driving up to the breeder's house to pick out our new GOLDEN RETRIEVER PUPPY, and two weeks after that we'll bring him home.

I haven't had a puppy since I was eight years old, which was a VERY long time ago. My youngest human child just turned fourteen. I'm out of practice with babies!

We've read the books, we've talked to people, we have a great puppy training class lined up and lots of great plans for training and play. But we still have to puppy-proof the house and acquire all the equipment. And then we'll have, you know, a puppy. My daughter asked me this morning how we're going to manage going to her middle school graduation in June, since that will take several hours and the puppy can't be left alone for more than an hour or two. What I thought was, sweetheart, your mom doesn't actually spend ALL day sitting around at home taking care of the pets; the puppy will just have to deal with it. What I said was, maybe we'll buy those puppy pee pads.

But seriously -- am I going to be unable to leave the house for more than an hour or two at a time? What Have I Signed Myself Up For??????

The good news is that I met a woman walking an 11-week-old golden retriever puppy on the street yesterday, and the puppy was so adorable that it made me think maybe I'll be able to handle it. We'll see.
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In Which I Commit Trollope Fanfic

Merry Happy, everyone! As threatened, I made a little present for my Trollope-loving friends — Lily Dale fanfic. I offer it this morning as a small gift for your winter holiday of choice. I wish you a merry Christmas if that's your celebration today, and a happy near-Solstice day in any case.

Here goes:

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(no subject)

So, to totally change the subject... Anyone out there into Trollope (Anthony, not Joanna)? I never read anything by him until this past year, when I read Jo Walton's "Tooth and Claw" and found out that the plot drew heavily from "Framley Parsonage." So I read that, and then "The Small House at Allington." People always talk about how long Trollope's novels are (and he does go on a bit), but they forget to mention that he can be hilariously funny! Now I've just finished "The Last Chronicle of Barset," and I'm struggling with an urge to write Lily Dale fanfic.
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Greater Love Day: Never forget. Well, maybe forget a little bit.

12 This is my commandment to you, to love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this--a man laying down his life for his friends.

John:12-13. This year's translation from the Weymouth New Testament.

This 2008 post explains why I think of 9/11 as "Greater Love Day."

This morning a Facebook friend posted something I've often thought -- that all the 9/11 "never forget" sloganeering is bullshit, because we couldn't forget if we wanted to. It sparked a lively discussion over there. Most people agreed with her, but at least one argued that we need to be reminded to "never forget" because as time passes, not everyone will remember.

Which is okay with me. Lots of bad things have happened in history — 9/11 wasn't even close to the worst one — and I'm extremely grateful that I don't remember all of them.

I woke up this morning feeling pretty good — I'd actually forgotten that it was 9/11 until I saw the front page of the morning paper. That was a solemn reminder, but I was glad to have it. And yet I just don't feel as raw as I did even a few years ago. The clear, cloudless blue sky — exactly like the sky in New York on September 11, 2001 — doesn't fill me with dread the way it once would have. I have an informal meeting about some school volunteer stuff this afternoon, and I'm okay with that — I don't feel like I should be alone in my bedroom with the shades drawn, the way I wanted to and couldn't for many years on this date. Would I be a better person if I felt worse today? I don't really think so.

Time passes. Wounds heal. That's a good thing. And what bothers me about the "never forget" slogan is that it has a subtext of "stay angry." Nothing good happens when people brood over historical defeats and injustices for generations. I admit, I get pretty peeved when officials start asking us to "let the healing begin" when it's their own missteps we're being asked to ignore. But, you know, you gotta let it start sometime.

I'm certainly not saying that anyone who isn't ready needs to "get over it." Some of us will never get over it. I'm glad that my city's flags are flying at half-staff today, and I'm lucky to have the time and peace and quiet to sit here and think and write about it. I'm just sayin', I'm also happy not to have to think about it all day.

Have a good Greater Love Day, everyone, and please do something good for a friend — but don't lay down your life unless you have to.
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(no subject)

I just made an appointment to have our dog put down next week.

The reasons are valid, but I feel sick -- like I've just made a date with the executioner.

Sorry to dump this on all of you here, but this isn't Facebook material. :-(
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In which I am too old to rock and roll

Oh my God, I feel like such a get-off-my-lawn cranky old lady. But I have to ask -- when you buy concert tickets, don't you expect a seat?

We battled rush-hour traffic and lined up early to get good spots for last night's Jonathan Coulton concert at the Great American Music Hall. Every other time I've been there, the main floor was set up with tables and chairs. So I was surprised to walk into the venue when it opened at 7:00 and see . . . nothing. Just a huge open space extending all the way to the stage. We looked upstairs, where there were some tables and seating -- all already full or reserved.

I asked the guy at the door what was going on. He said "It's a sold-out show," as if that explained everything. The staff claimed that this is the venue's normal set-up and that it was "on the ticket." (I later checked the fine print on the ticket. It said "General admission -- limited seating," which I wouldn't have interpreted as "no chairs on the main floor," but maybe that's just me.)

I was not the only surprised person in the crowd. Some were delighted -- one guy couldn't understand why everyone wasn't thrilled, because we could get so close to the stage. But one woman had a bad knee; my husband has a bad back and can't stand up for a long time; and for myself, I would at least have liked to know so that I could wear sneakers instead of sandals. Foot injuries aren't my idea of a good time.

If we hadn't carpooled up with our neighbor, I would have walked out. Instead, I seethed, I simmered, and I complained. I talked -- twice -- to a handsome young man in a natty suit who turned out to be the manager. He was polite and pleasant and listened attentively and initially told me he couldn't do anything about it. But eventually he offered to buy me a drink (I said no thanks), and then told me he'd look out for a table for us. After the opening act (which was lousy), he came over and told me he'd found a table for us. He took us upstairs to an unoccupied table in the reserved section, which was really pretty nice, and we got to sit up there for JoCo's whole show. But by then I'd put so much energy into being angry and complaining that it was hard to enjoy it. (I did my best -- JoCo made it easier by rocking so hard that at one point he broke two guitar strings simultaneously.)

Then on the way home, a motorcyclist banged on my window and yelled at me for changing lanes without signaling.

So now I really feel like I just shouldn't go out at night anymore, at least not in San Francisco.

Sanity check: When you buy concert tickets, do you expect there to be seats in the concert hall? And do you think that seatless venues should make an effort to specifically inform their customers that there won't be seats, or should we just suck it up and enjoy the show regardless of any physical discomfort?

--Willowgreen, feeling elderly and incompetent
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Smackdown (not): Parents vs. nonparents

I have a lot of friends who, for a variety of reasons, are not parents, and I've often thought about the ridiculousness of the prejudices they face. But a sentence in a Slate piece by the always loathesome but occasionally thought-provoking Katie Roiphe made me think a little harder about my own attitudes toward them. She wrote that parents "secretly feel sorry for or condescend to or fail to understand women who don’t have children." And when I look deep into my heart, I have to admit that yes, I do feel a little sorry for my friends who have never had kids of their own. I feel sorry for them in the way that I imagine triathletes feel sorry for couch potatoes like me -- I'm a little sad that my friends won't get to experience a whole constellation of joys that have been so meaningful for me. Because I care deeply about my friends, I wish them every joy life has to offer, and of course I'd love to share the joys I've experienced with them.

But because I'm an adult with ego boundaries, I also understand that what brings me joy might not bring another person joy. And because I have eyes and a brain, I can see that my childless friends have pretty great lives. They have the freedom to travel during the school year, work late into the night, devote their lives to a cause. There have been many, many times when I envied them -- particularly during the endless days of toddlerhood, when I wished for nothing more than an interruption-free half hour. There was also the time our friends got to stay for the whole Jonathan Coulton concert while we had to leave halfway through the second set because our babysitter had to get up early in the morning to row crew. I still haven't completely gotten over missing out on the live performance of "First of May."

When I was in my twenties and didn't intend to have children, a co-worker told me that because I wasn't a selfish person, I'd probably change my mind. I did change my mind, but I've never seen anything remotely unselfish about it. My childless friends include doctors, engineers, ecologists, university professors, musicians, teachers, writers, and ministers. They're hardly just taking up space in the world. Whether they're childless by choice or by accident of fate, they've all found meaningful work and satisfying relationships. At any given moment, they may be more or less happy with their niches in the world -- just as I'm sometimes more or less happy with mine.

So I don't think occasionally feeling a little sad that some of my favorite people will never get to experience a particular pleasure that has been important to me is the same as harboring some deep, condescending pity for them. I mean, I feel a little bad for my lactose-intolerant friends, too, but I hope they don't think that means I think less of them for it.

Now that my kids are too old for babysitters -- and, in fact, are just a few years from leaving home -- my time with them feels precious. I can't say I've enjoyed every minute with them, but I'm pretty sure I'm happier with them in the world than I would have been without them. And my non-parent friends have been able to share my joy in watching them grow up, and now get to enjoy knowing them as thoughtful, interesting young adults.

Bottom line, I think the whole parent-nonparent divide is overblown. People who want kids should have them. People who don't want kids shouldn't have them. There's room in the world for all kinds of people. Can't we all just get along?
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I'm going to Baycon!

Bay Area friends or anyone who'll be at Baycon in Santa Clara this weekend -- I'm going! I didn't sign up sooner because the programming schedule wasn't out until this week, but once I got a look at it I knew I wanted to be there.

I'll be there under my real name, Virginia Shea. I'd love to say hi and maybe stop for a drink with any LJ friends or acquaintances.


It's the first of May, first of May.... (Jonathan Coulton fans can fill in the rest. Not that I'm likely to be doing any of that anytime soon, at least not outdoors.)

I know that I posted in January when my father-in-law had a stroke. He was in ICU for three weeks, unconscious or barely conscious for most of that time. But he came out of it and went to a well-known Manhattan rehab center for six weeks, where he worked incredibly hard and regained a lot of his mental and physical function. Then he "graduated" from rehab to "sub-acute" care, which means, basically, a nursing home. He went to a place near his home on Long Island. It seemed like a really nice place. I don't know what went wrong, but he never did well there; he fell out of bed the first night. Over the three weeks he was there, he became increasingly confused to the point of dementia -- but the staff failed to recognize there was anything wrong with him. My mother-in-law basically had to have a hissy fit to have him admitted to the hospital.

At that point (the beginning of April), I asked my mother-in-law if she'd like me to come out and stay with her for a week or so and help out. She said yes, please. So I went, and three days later, he died. Which was awful -- but I'm glad I was there; I can't imagine how much worse it would have been if she'd been alone.

Everyone came out for the memorial service, which was beautiful and PACKED. I wasn't surprised, but it was still nice to see what an impact my father-in-law had on so many people. Four of his five children, including my spouse, spoke about him, as did my mother-in-law and three of his closest friends. Two topics that came up in every speech were his love of the Mets and his disdain for organized religion -- and everyone but my spouse used that word, "disdain." And the only reason my spouse didn't use it was that I edited it out of his eulogy, thinking it was a little harsh.

So now we have a memorial drinking game, where every time we hear the word "disdain," we take a gulp of whatever we're drinking in my father-in-law's honor. We all miss him so much -- I probably far less than any of the rest of the family; it's really hard on my spouse, whose impulse is to give him a call during every Mets game, as they'd done during almost every game for years and years.

Still, I'm awfully lucky to have known him for as long as I did.

The worst part is knowing that eventually I'll have to face this with my own parents. Pulling protective bubble of denial tightly over self now.

Anyway, on the way home from Long Island, we all got the flu -- I thought I'd escaped it because I'd gotten the flu shot last fall, but I wound up coming down with it last week -- and I had signed up months ago to give the sermon in church this past Sunday. I got it done, though. And what did I choose to talk about? "Buffy and the Heroine's Journey." I got to show off my Buffy action figures in church!

And that's enough of a brain dump for this morning. If you've read this far, please know that although I post rarely these days and comment only occasionally, I do read my flist almost every day, and I so appreciate seeing everyone's posts. This community continues to mean a lot to me.

Happy May, everyone!