One of my colleagues at GWJ posted this awesome article today, and I wanted to crow about it a bit. Sometimes it feels like I am the only one who ever thought of these things, and it's great to see when others have similar thoughts.
It was a little different for me. I don't know if it's because I'm a mom and we were in it on our own, or if it's just that I'm a pushy meddler. ;)
When they were very little, I was a very demanding GM. I designed the game, down to the last details every day. When they'd leveled a bit I helped them move onto the next realm, School, but I still kept close tabs on things.
Once they were in jr high/high school, I felt more like they were the lead in the game, and I was one of the other members of the party. The Sir Auron-type older and supposedly wiser person. I tried to stay in their adventures but let them have their quest. I tried to make sure it was a learning experience rather than actual damage, but I kept the healing potions handy. I tried to minimize the times I had step in and make it clear to anything that so much as mussed their hair that it would be very very sorry if it did that again. They have to learn, even when it's heartbreaking to let it happen.
When they were grown, that's when I truly became an NPC. I remember when my eldest son first left for the Army, and I realized I was pacing the same senseless pattern around the living room over and over, waiting for a phone call. Those first few years when they all tried their own wings and fought their own dragons were hard.
Now they're marrying and launching their own games. I still get called in for a cameo now and then, but we'll see where they all fly.
My new dog misbehaving.
That may seem weird. Let me 'splain.
Since I got her she's been coming down off drugs, scared out of her gourd, and on top of that going through moving to a new place. She's been cringing at everything instead of the playful, boisterous boxer you'd expect.
Today, she tested a command for the very first time. It wasn't a big deal. She just decided that she didn't want to go on her noon walk so she laid down so I couldn't put her harness on, looked away and wouldn't deign to respond.
It was a total power play. Each dog does it a little different, but she'd played this game with my friend's dogs and down at the dog park, so I knew what I was looking at. We weren't going to do things until she decided we'd do them.
I've been waiting for it, so I was prepared. I hung her tack back up and just started the dishwasher and ignored her right back until she came to me. She carried it on for a minute, then she gave me the serious evil eye, then she sulked for a minute, and when that didn't work, she crawled over for my attention and did the whole walk picture-perfect but for one squirrel incident that damned near dislocated my right shoulder. Right now she's snuggled up to my foot and occasionally licking my ankle.
I will admit it was hard to contain my pride and be properly stern. It's an awesome step forward.
On top of the rest of the reasons I'm really glad I was able to get my new dog away from where she was living, I found out last night that they regularly exposed her to large amounts of second-hand smoke from marijuana and sometimes may have also fed it to her for at least three years. This explains a lot of her behavior when she first got here, and what I'm seeing now, two weeks in.
According to the vet, it's going to take a while to fully leave her system, but it shouldn't have done any permanent harm. It explains her inexplicable terrors and periods of jumpiness followed by somnolence when she first got here, the bruxism (to the point she's worn her teeth down), the nervous licking of EVERYTHING, and her timidity in general.
I don't have any problems with people getting high, but I have a real problem with people doing this to their animals. For dogs, this stuff is a neurotoxin. They're not high, they're disoriented and going through violent mood-swings. They are not feeling good and chilling out. They probably can't use their legs properly or balance. They're not relaxing. They're sedated. Eating it, like in a brownie or if they get a hold of a roach or your stash, is dangerous as heck if not treated because they can get to the point they can't regulate their own body temperature or drink properly without choking.
She's getting better every day. I'm starting to see the playful side of her, but the legacy of that fear will take longer to go. She's timid around all strangers, but terrified of men. Once she trusts you, she's a real charmer. Until then, she is literally cowering belly-down on the floor, trembling visibly.
She flat will not leave my side voluntarily, even for people she's known longer and generally likes enough to be playful with, as in my daughter. My daughter watched her while I went to the grocery store last night (because if I leave her home alone even long enough to go to the mailbox she gets so stressed she vomits). When my daughter tried to walk her down to her house, Cleo went joyfully with much butt-wagging and licking as far as my car, then flat refused to go farther and dragged her back up the hill to my place to get me. I had to take her there and then leave her whimpering with my daughter holding on to her at the door.
I don't know why she trusts me like this. I got some story that before they got her she lived with an old lady, and maybe she's associating her with me. But since that comes from the person who told me she was only 2 (she's five) I don't know and I have no way of really knowing for sure. I got her a harness that fits; the one that came with her was way too small and was wearing her fur off and has been that way long enough it's left dents in her skin like the ones where my glasses go over my temples. Have to do a harness because she can slip a collar at will due to the muscles in her neck (she's a boxer). She's apparently never seen a vet so we need to do shots and I need to find out if she's been fixed.
It's infuriating. It breaks my heart to see her cowering on the floor because my son came in, and to see her inching towards him when he hunkers down to reassure her. I'm having to teach her how to play with toys. She literally doesn't know how.
tl;dr: Smoke all you want yourself, but DO NOT GET YOUR DOG HIGH.
I've been thinking a lot lately about my life and where I'm going.
I've heard people say time and again that if you really wanted something, you'd find the time for it. I don't agree with that. Yes, there's a certain level prioritizing that has to go on, but I think that facile comment really doesn't take into account the ever-shifting equation of real life. Yes, I really want to be a writer. So I write and reach out and build. Unfortunately, I really need to be able to pay my rent. Hence the Daily Planet job. Finding a balance between the two of those is not an easy thing. And when the Daily Planet job goes into bio-break only mode, guess which one trumps.
There are certain bedrock things that transcend the word "want". It's not "I want to sleep." Whether you really want it or really don't, something like that has to happen. The kids, the house, whatever. If the dog needs to go out, she needs to go out and if that means you find yourself tethered to a peeing dog in the pouring rain at 2am, then that's the way it is. By the time you get down through to the bottom of that list, there's often precious little left for the wants.
You can push it. To try to derive some answer for the day that includes at least some of all of the above I've been going short on sleep for years. But that trick is very much a young person's game. At some point, that equation divides itself by zero and you drop everything trying to recover.
So, we'll see. I'm sick of trying to describe these things with the current math. So I'm going to try to be like Newton and invent the life-balance version of calculus and figure out a way to make this all work. Or maybe it'll all turn out to be the scrawls of a crazy prisoner on the walls of her cell.
I know it's been a long while. There have been a lot of changes, but a lot of things are pretty much the same.
Is too long. Let me sum up.
My elder daughter just got married. My younger son is going to go to school to be an underwater welder. My elder son works in facilities maintenance at the apartment complex, and my younger daughter is still happily married to her high school sweetheart. They all live here in the same complex I do. My mom's cancer came back, and she's finishing up a round of radiation and chemo.
As for me, I still work in the same place, but I've been working on a project that basically took all the time there was since February (note the date of the last post. ;) ) I won't say that it's totally responsible for my shortchanging this place, but it certainly didn't help.
Now I'm trying to get my life going again after the holidays, the wedding, and getting Phase 1 of that project shipped.
As far as writing goes, I opened my yap and have to put my money where my mouth is. I made a comment on several current popular novels and basically was challenged to see if I could write something better in the same genre. So romance and vampires it is. No sparkles, though. It's actually been an interesting challenge. The tropes are easy ones, and in some ways writing it has felt more like taking dictation. We'll see how it goes.
So now we start again. A new look, a new year, and hopefully a better track record for posting.