A final gift…

For most of last week I wasn’t fit for service. Sure, I managed to feed and bathe myself and tend to the life, health, and safety requirements for Maggie, Hershel, and George, but otherwise I was lost in the tall grass. If I had needed to submit a readiness report, it would have read “not mission capable.” Anything that wasn’t essential just got left on the side of the road.

I don’t handle grief well. I don’t suppose most people do. My approach is almost universally to put my head down and grind through whatever the situation is in low gear. I doubt that my psychologist friends would call it a particularly healthy coping strategy, but it’s what I do. Drawing inward, circling the wagons, defending the keep – call it what you will, but history tells me that it’s what works to get me through to the other side of any individual crisis of the moment. 

Consequently to all that, most of the administrative minutia of life stayed on the wayside until I was better able to get and keep my head “in the game” as it were. That means this week I’m just now starting to pick back up with the business of keeping the household running smoothly – groceries, laundry, and cleaning. It was also time to check in on the administrator’s panel for the blog and pay some fees, and tend to the minor details that keep my small part of the internet up and running.

It was in checking the back office side of the blog that I discovered one last gift that Winston gave me. Without me knowing it, my tribute post to a good and faithful dog rocketed into first place as the single most viewed post in the nine year history of this blog. In fact it didn’t quite double the previous “most viewed” record, but it came awfully close. It turns out the internet isn’t always the dumpster fire we make it out to be. Every now and then its collective users can find a way to leave even the most jaded among us more than a little bit surprised with their generous spirit and kind support.

Winston raised the bar on me while I wasn’t paying attention. If I never write another thing to exceed that mark, I’ll be more than happy with the result.

With my thanks…

Under any normal circumstance, Thursdays are sacrosanct and reserved exclusively for What Annoys Jeff this Week. This week, of course, has been filled with what I can only charitably describe as abnormal circumstances that cast any of the usual annoyances far into the shadows.

Instead of phoning something in, I want to use this generally largest audience of the week to say thank you to everyone who has called, emailed, sent a text, a tweet, or Facebook message over the last few days. I know I haven’t gotten back to many of you personally – the truth is, I haven’t even read the bulk of the messages yet. The last couple of days all my mental energy has been flowing deep into the reptilian section of my brain and focused on self preservation and generating emotional scar tissue. I promise I’m going to read every one of them just as soon as they don’t threaten to send me off the rails into ugly crying territory.

Winston was one of the very few creatures on earth that I loved without reservation. Based on your responses, you noticed . Please know that I was and continue to be touched beyond words by your kindness. You all helped lighten the burden of an incredibly hard day and I’ll always be grateful for that.

Your lack of sleep is showing…

I haven’t been sleeping worth a damn for the last week or so. It’s not a problem falling asleep. That happens fast enough, occasionally before I even have time to reach over and flick off the lamp. It’s more a problem of staying asleep once I get there. I’m naming the direct cause(s) as a free-roaming cat, a dog that fights for every inch of bed space and another whose snores seem to be able to shake the very ground, a trip to the bathroom occasionally, and my poor sleep addled brain trying to tune it all out. It hasn’t been a winning combination for a couple of nights now.

It’s starting to bleed through into things like a marvelously reduced attention span, incredibly hostile mood (yeah, more so than usual), grumbling at dogs who are doing dog stuff, and even, I suspect, the complete shit that passes for blog posts that I’ve been planting here. Sorry about that. I don’t know that coming clean about it makes those bad posts any better, but it’s at least honest.

There are things I could do that would probably improve my quality of sleep – banish the animals and the electronics from the bedroom, cut way back on liquid consumption after dinner, and generally try to decrease aggravation from 8PM onward. None of those things feel particularly likely to happen, though, so maybe we should all just get use to expecting me to be more surly and less coherent from here on out.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Gender specific household chores. In the last week I’ve seen a literal shitload of social media posts boohooing that traditional “women’s work” is unappreciated in the household. Yes, I’m sure these posts are directed at a certain sub set of the population that largely includes households that consist of two adults and a few spawn, but honest to God my reaction is almost universally “Oh just shut the hell up.” If I don’t do the “girly” things like cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, and making of doctor’s appointments those things don’t get done. If I don’t feed the dogs, cat, and tortoise they don’t get fed. Likewise if I don’t do the “manly” things like cut the grass, change the oil, clean the gutters, and do the other household maintenance, those things don’t get done. If I don’t drag my ass out of bed and into the office 40 hours a week, there’s no money to do any of the above mentioned activities. You see, I’m an adult. I do the things because that’s what being an adult means. There are days I’d love to have the luxury of dividing it vaguely near the middle and calling some of it someone else’s responsibility. The fact that somewhere out there many pairs of grown ass adult humans apparently can’t figure out how to each do approximately half the things I somehow manage to do on my own ranks somewhere between appalling and infuriating.

2. Pet owners who shouldn’t. If you need to be told to bring your pets inside during a hurricane you are an absolute fuckwit and would do the world a considerable favor by tying yourself to a bundle of cinder blocks and letting the storm surge have you. I’m willing to accept no excuse of stupidity, poverty, or unavoidable circumstance to justify your ineptitude to provide even the most basic level of care for a creature that relies solely on you to provide for it. In the benevolent reign of King Jeff you would be drug into the street, given a fair trial, and then summarily shot and left where you fall.

3. Internet experts. I love hurricane season because it’s when the internet experts in material acquisition and distribution logistics all come out of the woodwork with an “opinion” on how to a) get the right stuff and b) move it to the right place at the right time. I won’t go into my firm believe that these are the same experts who are personally challenged to execute their weekly trip to pick up family groceries and who’s greatest logistical achievement to date is packing the family truckster for a week long roadtrip to Wally World. My point is, it’s fine to have an opinion, you’re entitled to it… but it’s always best to try not to sound like a complete idiot while you’re having it.

Sleeping dogs

Having webcammed the dogs in the middle of the day a few times years ago, I know they mostly spend the day sleeping. Based on my observation in the evenings after work, they sleep most of the night away too. Does it say anything about me that I find myself feeling vaguely jealous of how my pups get to spend their day? Plenty of beds to pick from, never needing to stray outside the fenced compound aside from the occasional doctor’s visit and vacation, someone else to prepare all their meals, and really not much of a care in the world other than whatever critter has decided to make its home under the deck.

When I get up in the dark hours of the morning to get ready for work, they stay in bed, only getting up when it’s time for a trip outside and breakfast. After that they promptly go back to sleep. While I’m going blind on powerpoint or jabbing myself in the thigh with the sharp end of a pencil to keep myself awake in some interminable meeting, they’re looking for a different comfortable place to lay down for a while. When I get home, there’s a brief burst of energy that lasts maybe half an hour where they’re ecstatic to see me again (and get dinner). After that it’s back to scoping out whichever spot on the floor, or on my lap, looks most comfortable for a hard night’s lying about.

Yeah, I’m jealous of the dogs. Aside from eating the same meal every day for years on end and having to poop outside, they pretty much have the life I want… and the freeloaders are doing it on my dime. Jerks. Have you every had the feeling that opposable thumbs and higher order cognitive skills might just be overrated?

A dog’s approach…

I’m sure something noteworthy happened somewhere today, but I was too busy bouncing between meetings to figure out what that might be. I’m not saying jam packed days are a bad thing. If nothing else, they tend to go quickly. Still, the amount of mental energy I expend on being “on” all day to deal with large numbers of people is quite simply exhausting. I’ve heard that some people thrive on nonstop activity, but right now the refrigerator’s compressor is filling the house with enough noise to drive me to distraction.

The dogs, bless them, are incredibly intuitive when it comes to picking up moods. Winston just waddled over and laid down with his chin on my foot, demanding no attention, but offering a satisfied snort in exchange for a rub on the head. Maggie took the opportunity to steal his bed and is most likely bunked down until it’s time to go upstairs later. It’s days like this that make me supremely happy I don’t have overly excitable pets.

There are too many overly excitable animals in the world already… and unfortunately, the majority of them seem to be people. That’s unfortunate. I think they could learn a lot from taking a dog’s approach to life.

Needy…

I’m hopelessly devoted to the dogs. It’s safe to say that there are human children in Ceciltucky who are more poorly cared for then these two fur balls. Even so, it would occasionally be nice to take a step backwards without needing to check my six. I only bring it up because Maggie has been exceptionally needy this afternoon. And by needy, I mean attached to my hip even more than usual. That’s not an exaggeration. Every time I move, she adjusts so that some part of her is in direct contact with me. It’s sweet, but more than a bit inconvenient.

Winston, bless my stoic descendent of British fighting dogs, is mostly happy just to lay in front of the couch protecting his marrow bone and casting an occasional look around the room to make sure everyone is still there. George, being a tortoise, could care less. At the moment, he’s under his heat lamp looking very much like a round, shiny rock. It’s for the best. I’m not sure I could manage with three that need undivided attention.

This post would be longer, but you’d be surprised how difficult it is to type anything coherent with one hand while the other is occupied with playing tug and dispensing ear scratches…