Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day and Remembering the Heros in our lives

The memorial day holiday has long been a time to remember those who have fallen in battle, spending their lives so that the rest of us in the U.S. could enjoy our freedoms and privilages in peace. While I honor the memories of those who have made that ultimate sacrifice, so I didn't have to, I have very little in the way of family background in the service.

My family hasn't had a whole lot to do with military careers since the Civil War in the 1800s. We were on the losing end in that conflict, and so what lives were spent there from our family were effectively thrown away according to some. I don't personally see it that way. The lived, fought, and died for what they honestly believed in, and as such I honor their memories along with those who have lived, fought, and died for all those things which the U.S. was founded on. All of them have been heros - whether it be the grunt in the field who did nothing but his duty, or the general whom history records as valiant and a great leader. From those who did nothing out of the ordinary, to those who went so far above and beyond the call of mere duty as to recieve the recognition of our government with the Congressional Medal of Honor - each of them has been a hero to one of us along the road.

It is not these heros that I want to remember today, though. Many will spend at least a few minutes of their holiday taking time out from shopping sales, backyard bbqs, trips to the lake or gun range to remember those who have given their lives to the cause of peace, freedom, and prosperity. I honor their sacrifice, and what it has meant to my life.

But my efforts, instead, will focus on those heros in my Personal life. The people who saw to it that I could live without fear, prosperously, with a sense of both respect and gratitude for our constitution and the privilages it grants me. Who raised me, cared for me, disciplined me when I was wrong, praised my efforts when I was right, picked me up and dusted me off when I fell down to set me on my feet again and take another chance. I was sheltered as much as they could from life's ugliness, while they tried to see to it I wasn't so sheltered and naieve as to be handicapped by that sheltering. While many see it as a flaw, I take a bit of pride in saying, "Yes, my parents spoild me to a certain extent." Why? Because it means that they Always saw to it that I had what I Needed, and when they could and it wouldn't be specifically harmful, they sometimes went without things that THEY wanted to see to it that I had things *I wanted instead.

They were my best friends, my confidants, my teachers, my preachers, the rocks that I leaned on for strength and support, and the guiding light on my path through life.

They were my parents. I love them. I miss them. I grieve that they are no longer here to talk to, to spend time with, to go to as sounding boards and saviors. I honor the sacrifices they made in Their personal lives, in an effort to see to it that I thrived and prospered and grew in My personal life. I regret not telling them more often, while they were here, just how much I loved them, and appreciated everything they did for me. I can only hope to be half as good as a person as they were while I was growing up, and even after I became an adult myself.

My father, especially, who currently lays dying in an ICU bed in the hospital, not expected to live for more than a few more days, will forever hold a special place in my heart. He is the man that all others must live up to, and few will suceed in the attempt. He was not even a biological factor in my existance - but he was the type of man willing to take on responcibility for a pair of brats not even his own, because they were the offspring of the woman he loved and cherished and adored - and to offer them the love that one would expect from a biological parent. He didn't have to - but insisted on adopting my brother and I, taking legal and moral responcibility for the pair of us - and never once in the course of my life did he give me reason to think he might have regretted doing so at times when one of us was particularly bad. He took me in, he raised me as his own, he loved me unconditionally, and he did his best to see to it that I was equipped to have a good life. He taught me respect for the rights given to me by an accident of birth, and to fight - and if need be die - to maintain those rights for myself and others. He taught me discipline. He taught me compassion. He taught me to stand up for myself, and to take pride in my accomplishments. He taught me to live, to laugh, to love, to cry, and to rejoice.

And for as long as I live, no matter where I go or what I do or what life happens to bring or take away .... he will forever be MY hero.

Monday, May 24, 2010

OK... just so yall know what I really look like

I've had several people comment to me over the past few years about how camera shy I tend to be. In an effort to both prove that I'm real to those who think otherwise, and to get myself past being so camera shy, I've posted these photos, recently taken. All of them are less than a month old.

Sunday afternoon, sitting on my front porch!

The newest of my many tattoos. Finished about 20 minutes before the photo was taken, a couple of weeks ago, located on the front of my right shoulder. This is the start of the Cap for my full sleeve that's being worked on currently.

This was the first one I ever got, just prior to turning 40. It's a memorial piece I wanted for my mother, located on my right shoulder blade.

My sleeve, at it's current level of finish. Yes, there's still a lot of work to be done on it, mostly on the inside area of my arm. At least most of the outside portion is finished now except some minor fill work my artist and I are planning to start on soon.

A much better look at the bottom half of my right arm, where we're working on my full sleeve.

This is the piece on my left arm, which I had done a few years ago, right after daddy's stroke. It's currently the only thing on that side, and I'm still deciding whether it will get anything around it or stay by it's lonesome.

Just a brief thanks...

Wai, you almost restore my faith in the inherent goodness of people in general, and the belief that somewhere out there on this putrid mudball, there are still a few decent guys around. Not gonna go into why, cause you already know why I'm saying thanks.

Nuff said.

Friday, May 21, 2010

I Can't Drive 55....

I stated in an earlier post that I had recently learned some rather ugly life lessons, and that I would be posting about those lessons separately. This is the result of people asking me "what lessons were you talking about?"

First let me present a bit of background. That'll give you a slightly better understanding of what happened and why. It is not meant to excuse my behavior in any way. It is not meant to attempt to place blame for what happened on the shoulders of Anyone other than myself. And if, by chance, you somehow take some of this as an attempt to do such, you're either projecting your own faults onto me, or you simply want to be a prick.

I've been known over the course of my life to be a bit scatter brained at times. It's been a curse since I was a kid, although I usually work really hard not to forget anything Important. Unfortunately, the way the Curse works is that I can remember all the Trivia in the world, but can't remember things like.. oh... the names of my children in a moment of crises, or court dates for speeding tickets.

I've also suffered for a long time under a curse shared by a lot of women in our society: I was taught while growing up to play ostrich when problems arose, and to rely on the men around me to Fix It.

I grew up getting told that if I was a good girl, then mom & dad.. or the church, or the school teachers, or the government, or my husband/boyfriend (depending on my age at the time)... would kill my "snakes" for me. As I got older, I failed to have the lesson completely sink in that if I wanted my 'snakes' killed, I would have to do it for myself.

So, fast forward about 30 years, until I'm 40. I've managed at this point to keep myself out of trouble, I've never been to jail, and I'm one of those almost gaggingly stereotypical respectable/responsible types. I've raised my children to a point where I can lay down some of my stress, and start living my life for myself rather than for everyone else. Not all of it was peaches and cream, but not all of it was horrific, either. And it really didn't matter, because that portion of life was over and I was set to move forward and start rebuilding fresh.

I sold my house, moved out of state, started fresh elsewhere, and 10 months later got asked to return to Oklahoma by my dad, as his health was deteriorating. Being the dutiful, responsible sib in the family, I packed up and came home. A year later, dad had a near fatal stroke that turned him into a complete invalid, and dumped everything into my lap to take care of. Now, less than 2 years after I'd finally managed to free myself of almost overwhelming amounts of responsibility, here I was over loaded again, and responsible for myself and someone who was incapable of doing for themselves for valid reasons.

For the first 6 months, things were pretty much alright. I kept a lid on things, got everything done that needed to get done, held down the fort, etc. Then my brother decided he didn't like being the eldest and not having control - mostly because I refused to finance his drug habit - and started making trouble. Over the course of the next year, things went from bad to worse due to a series of problems that never quite finished resolving themselves, and my stress load simply continued to climb.

By the time the first 2 years had passed, with dad living in a nursing home for all of it, things were already pretty much a shambles. I ended up behind the 8 ball and trying desperately to catch up, moving from one various crises to the next with brief periods in between to hopefully catch a breath.

Then dad's doctors informed me that they were placing him on Hospice and he was estimated to have less than 6 months left to live. I gave up the fight he and I had been waging at that point, and moved him back home with me, so that I could at least offer him the final dignity of dying where he wanted to - in his own bed, rather than warehoused and anonymously numbered. I figured that 6 to 12 months I could handle, regardless of the stress load.

Boy, was I wrong.

Things were ok for the first couple of months. And even, perhaps to a large extent, for the first 6 months. Then I quit being able to take more stress, with no way to really get rid of any significant amount of it, and things headed into the toilet in a hurry. By this point, it was the beginning of October, 2009, and my recent ex and I had just met. I was stressed out, on the edge of a nervous breakdown which finally showed up in late December, and being threatened with possible misconduct charges by adult protective services because of mistakes I made while stressed out.

Fast forward 2 months to near the middle of December, 2009. Ex and I decide to take a quick trip from home up to the portion of the state he moved from, in order to pick up some of his things. Money being tight, we opted not to take the turnpike, and instead headed for the 2 lane Route 66 that winds it's way up the same path, which is what the turnpike replaced. Route 66, though, has a plethora of small towns dotted along it's length, with their attendant speed variations. At this point, I was driving.

No sooner did we start along Route 66 than we begin to pass through the small speed trap town of Arcadia, Oklahoma. I wasn't paying attention. I was speeding. The officer that pulled me over did so legitimately, and was polite, respectful, and even kind in letting me off with only the speeding ticket, since I couldn't find the insurance verification form for the car. It shook me up, so rather than continuing to drive, I switched places with the ex, and he drove for the rest of the trip to Tulsa and back home. Court date listed on the ticket was for the first week of January.

Things continued forward, and at the end of December as it all came to a head, I finally cracked and suffered the nervous breakdown that had been creeping up on me for a while. I turned into a gibbering idiot, nearly in a state of catatonia for a few hours, and proceeded to misplace what few marbles I had left at that point.

What disappeared along with my marbles? Being able to remember that I had a speeding ticket, with a court date still pending on it. Strike 1 for missing a court date.

Word of advice? Never miss a court date in a small, rural town that relies on those fines for the majority of their income. They put out warrants in a hurry for FtA (failure to appear) - and then send their police to your doorstep in short order to arrest you on that bench warrant. And if they're a Really small town, like Arcadia is, they won't even have their own jail! Which means, of course, that they send you to the County Jail in whatever county they happen to be part of.

So off to county lock down I go, my hands cuffed behind me for the ride, to be patted down, fingerprinted, have rather terrified looking mugshot photos taken, all of my tattoos recorded and put on record, my clothing and such replaced with ugly orange scrubs that said "Jail" on the back of them, and tossed into a 10' by 12' concrete room with 2 steel bunks, a combination toilet/sink in one corner, whose door only locked from the outside, and a pair of race hatred motivated roommates as the other occupants of this cozy space. And I wasn't of their race.

One week and almost uncountable amounts of psychological trauma later, I was finally released by the judge on an OR (own recognizance) bond, and a new court date given to me. The trauma was caused by a multitude of things. Food so bad I wouldn't force my dogs to eat it. (I ended up loosing 12lbs that week, from being unable to stomach the majority of it.) My only company being various hardened drug addicts, drug dealers, accused murderers, multi-count thieves, and those charged with assault and other violent crimes. And this was in the Women's area of the county jail.

So I go home, determined to pick up the pieces of my life, get back on the psych meds that I'm supposed to be taking, never miss another court date for the rest of my life or do Anything that could land me in a similar position a second time. I write down the new court date on the calendar, and put a note to myself in my phone for that date as well, with an alarm programmed, so I don't forget.

Court date approaches, as I keep an eye on the calendar, and then I realize something. The date I've written down on the calendar is a Saturday. No one has court on Saturday, right? Of Course no one has court on Saturday - that's the Weekend, and court is a Weekday thing!

BZZZZZZZZZZZZZ, wrong answer, but we Thank You for playing "You Bet Your Life!" I proceed to convince myself that I had to have written the date down wrong, and so I don't show up - again. However, I took myself there first thing the next Monday to present myself to the judge to work out payment arrangements for the mounting fines and associated court costs.

And promptly found myself handcuffed and driven downtown to the County Jail a second time, for a 2 week reprise of my earlier visit. That makes 2 trips, spanning 3 weeks total, in a matter of 8 weeks of time.

I've learned a lot from the experience. I've learned never to rely on anyone other than myself to deal with a problem. No one else is going to, even if they offer to, or have claimed responsibility for you and your life. I've learned never to take something I "know" as something that I Actually KNOW - verify, verify, verify. I'm learning rapidly not to think I can get away with playing ostrich about anything - the stress doesn't go away, and eventually when I lift my head for a peek to see if the danger has passed, it's going to be hovering with teeth bared. I'm working on learning better coping skills for the stress itself, though that's a lengthy process. And I've learned that yes - there IS worse food on the planet than a couple of my more "creative" ex's cooked - it's served at the Oklahoma County Jail.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rhi's Rhules and Rhetoric for Rhelationships

Rhule 1.) Don't Do It. Just don't. Yes, I know, you think you're in Lurve. But trust me on this one, it's a brief hormonal fluctuation, and you'll get over it in about the same length of time that it takes to get over a hormone induced hot flash.

Rhule 2.) If you must break Rhule #1, then for the love of the gods and little green apples, do so with a bit of Intelligence. Thinking with your genitals isn't pretty at the best of times, and at the worst of times can land you in an unexpected nightmare.

In light of my own nasty habit of ignoring both of those basic rhules for a sucessful life and meaningful rhelationships, how about a few pointers on how I'm trying to learn to follow at Least #2 a little more closely? These are the distilled nuggets of everlasting truth that I've gained over the course of too many relationships during the past 30 years.

Never ignore your gut instincts, after a good roll in the hay to relieve tension, when they scream at you, "Get up, get dressed, smile politely and tell him thanks for the fantastic orgasm, then GO HOME AND FORGET HE EXISTS."

Never be willing to settle for whatever happens to come along, rather than what you honestly Want in a partner. You'll regret it. It will make you miserable in the long run. And you'll end up angry at yourself, resentful of your unsuitable partner, and missing opportunity when someone suitable Does walk into your life.

Never be willing to date someone who has spent more time in prison than you have, or whose bad habits are significantly worse than your own. You aren't going to change them, and in the long run, you'll end up asking yourself far too frequently what you saw in them in the first place.

Never be willing to date someone whom you know is willing to cheat. If they will cheat WITH you (or someone else) they will eventually cheat ON you as well. Tigers don't change their stripes, and neither do those who are willing to discard loyalty at the drop of a hat (or pair of panties.) If you don't care whether they sneak around behind your back, frequently lie to you on a massive scale, have no respect for you, and no regard for whatever promises you made to each other - then feel free to disregard this one.

Never date someone whom you know is willing to lie to you about the big issues. Eventually, you'll find out the truth anyway. You always do. And if you find out long after the fact, because they lied about something big (like cheating, or a felony record) you'll end up feeling miserable, betrayed, and angry. (And probably thinking up creative ways to perform castration, and new recipes for a type of faux mountain oysters.)

Never date someone who puts you down, degrades you, humiliates you, doesn't respect you, or puts you last behind everyone else they know. Just trust me on this one. Nuff said about it.

Never, EVER, put someone first in your life who has not put you first in Their life. If they're not willing to put you ahead of everyone else, they don't deserve to be placed ahead of everyone else. Along with this goes a second portion: Never make someone a priority in life, if you are merely a convenience in thier's.

And finally....

Forgive and Forget = Relive and Regret. Forgive them all you like for their flaws. They're human, after all, just like you are. But don't turn around and forget what they've done after forgiving them. If you forget, then it will keep happening, and you'll find yourself perplexed. Forgive them, send them on their way, and chalk it up to a lesson learned.

Edited to add: If they mention that ugly "m" word (you know- Marriage) in any positive form, run screaming for the hills as fast as possible. And never allow someone you're dating to move into your home, regardless of circumstances, unless you've been seeing each other for longer than 2 years and are currently engaged due to ignoring the warning about running for the hills.

Fish Fry, Reduex

In an effort to both maintain what my original intent with a prior (currently deleted) post was, I'm posting this greatly edited version. My intent, even in the first version, was both to vent off some remaining rage at what happened.. and primarily to examine some of my own shortcomings in the matter.

Apparently, some found the original post to have fallen rather short of the mark. It has been saved, pending re post or destruction into electronic oblivion, depending upon whether or not certain things happen or don't happen. Either way, THIS post will not find the same fate, regardless of whether it happens to rile the sensibilities of another. I won't be so polite or kind a second time, regardless of anyone else's feelings in the matter.

So without further adieu, let us move on to the redeux....

When it comes to dating, and most especially when it comes to break ups of any sort, people inevitably spout the old saying that there are always more fish in the sea. Trust me on this one, it's a truism for a reason. And since that particular truism equates all humans of one's prefered gender to fish, I've decided that it's time to light a fire, heat up some oil, pick over the bones, and dispose of the carcass.

This little rant is about 6 weeks overdue, really, and it's being written now with a bit of hindsight. I've waited to write this in order to examine both my own shortcomings when dealing with my recently ended relationship, and to bring myself to a point where I could examine his shortcomings with a touch less rancor than I would have been able to accomplish had I attempted to write this sooner.

Another old saying, when discussing breakups, is that there is her story, his story, and the truth laying somewhere in the middle of the two. For the most part, this is indeed the case. And such that it is, I make no claim to being faultless or guilt free in the destruction of my former relationship.

I cannot say what his true motives were, or his true reasoning in his decision to terminate our relationship rather than attempt to work on it further in the hopes of salvaging things. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a mind reader. I can at best divulge my own perspective on things, seasoned with hindsight and what he has chosen to give me as his reasoning. While this will no doubt leave as many questions as it answers, and by it's nature will hardly give a complete picture of the situation, it is the best available to me until such time as I suddenly DO become a mind reader.

This particular comedy of errors - or perhaps tragi-comedy - started at the beginning of October, 2009. Not very long ago, was it? No, not very long at all, and yet in some senses, a lifetime ago in learning about myself. He and I were introduced by a mutual acquaintance at an SCA function.

My mistakes began with ignoring rules of my own making. There were things that my internal sensors screamed at me about, which I ignored and justified to myself. I shouldn't have done so. It is almost always a mistake not to listen to that internal voice when it warns you that doing something is an error in judgement. Ignoring these particular comments from instinct and inner voice had a particular side effect, though - this mistake set up the pattern for a couple of future mistakes on my own part down the road, of a somewhat similar nature.

My second mistake was in failing to recognize my own state of emotional neediness at that point in time, and to take it into account. I jumped, head long, at the first opportunity presented to me to meet certain emotional needs. I did so without pausing to consider the potential consequences, or whether such a liaison was suitable, sustainable, or healthy. I knew better. I had internal misgivings about doing so. And I subsequently ignored them in order to satisfy my need for companionship and affection with someone who was of my age group, enjoyed some (or in this case many) of my hobbies, was of a suitable gender, and not a family member in need of a full time caregiver. I wanted to feel loved, and to no longer be lonely for the company of someone other than casual friends or dependant family. I should have simply bought a dog. (Oh wait - those tend to fall under the category of "dependant family member" in short order, since you have to feed them, water them, potty train them, clean up after them, and see to all their needs. Now I remember why I didn't simply go buy a dog!)

My third mistake goes back to what I said a moment ago about ignoring my internal voice, my own rules, and my instincts again. There were things which I knew would repeat themselves, which my inner voice screamed at me not to ignore or justify to myself or pass over. I did anyway. Ignoring that inner voice over these issues, though, caused some serious damage to my capacity to trust.

I convinced myself, at least for a time, that my trust was merely wounded and could recuperate with sufficient time, and a bit of effort. That death of trust on my part started a rather nasty downward spiral for both of us. I became depressed - a condition which I was already far to familiar with, since I've been diagnosed as having Clinical Depression - and that depression increased until apathy set in. The more depressed I became, the more apathetic I became. The more apathetic I became, the more he withdrew from me. The more he withdrew, the more depressed and apathetic I became.

It was a spiral that we could have put a stop to, had things not already been destroyed by various issues on both sides of the coin. The sex died, the playtime died, communication - other than occasionally snarling at one another over various slights and faults - died. By this time he'd already made up his mind to leave. And I had already made up my mind that if I could get things sufficiently in order not to need him Financially, I would tell him that it was time to end it and for him to move on. I resolved myself to simply maintain the status quo until such time as I could free myself from him financially. He had apparently resolved to maintain the status quo until his conditions were suitable.

Those conditions of his - which remain his own - were apparently met when I learned a rather nasty life lesson that kept me..... Detained.. for a couple of weeks - those lessons being fodder for another post, coming soon.

The relationship had been dead for quite a while by that point. I simply hadn't allowed myself to consciously Admit that it was dead and needed to be buried, before the rotting corpse brought about a level of contagion that couldn't be contained. He finally moved a little over a week ago. I had allowed him to continue living here, as a rent paying tenant, after having him move into a separate bedroom. I would have been willing to allow him to continue living here as long as he needed, as a rent paying tenant. He, however, had other ideas - mostly because he got angry when I confronted his new gal. She apparently panicked about being told such by me, called him, and he came rushing back to the house in a near rage to being throwing his things into his van to move. He should have thought it through a bit better, since he'd already learned that the rental property he was supposed to move into was uninhabitable at the time - he ended up living out of the back of his van and their moving truck for several days, and while he's currently sitting in Cincinnati with her, preparing to finish moving her back here with him, for all I know their new "home" is still an uninhabitable shambles which the landlord is dragging feet about repairing.

Ah well. Lessons have been learned. I've woken up to some truths about myself, and the consequences of putting off my own needs for too many years. And I've quit grieving about the ended relationship. I honestly wish neither of them any ill - only what each of them deserves, whatever fate might decree that to be. I can hope for all of us - both those involved, and those who simply read this account - that things can progress to happier circumstances. As for myself, I move on with my life, and have resolved not to forget the lessons that this ill-fated attempted has shown me.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dogs and cats and rats! Oh My!

Dogs and Cats and Rats and Fish. All I need do now is add a couple of birds and a snake or tarantula, and I'll have the whole gamut of potential house pets.

I've grown up around pets my whole life. I'm an animal lover in the extreme, and can't walk past a pet store in the mall without stopping to ogle the puppies and kittens, and wish I could take them all home with me. If it's small and furry and cute - I probably like it.

I've been owned by cats, especially, since I was a very (Very!) young child. I have 2 currently, and in the past have had as many as four grace me with their presence at any given time of a single day. I spent some time during my early 20s working with friends who raised pedigree Maine Coons for show, and helping them do both the breeding and showing work. I know Catitude inside and out, and have a small share of it myself. (This is My universe, my planet, my house. You live here solely to cater to me: seeing to my needs, and buggering off when I decide I don't want you specifically underfoot. That is Catitude.)

The main difference between Dogs and Cats? Dogs have Owners, Cats have STAFF.

My current pair of feline family members have been with me for about 3 years now, both of them being rescued adoptees from the local animal shelter. Merlin (male, neutered, currently 6 years old, and very much an attention whore) and Stormy (female, spayed, about 10 years old, queen of her universe, and inherently lazy) are very much family, and have been an incredible source of comfort to me on a fairly consistent basis.

The rats were an issue that I had a lot of trouble coming to grips with. I don't, as a general rule, deal well with rodents of any variety. However, I'm really bad to want to keep my S.O. happy, and at the time, my ex spoke frequently about missing the rats he used to own. I fought it tooth and toenail. Rats. The very word still makes me shudder and mentally picture filth covered disease carrying sewer dwellers. He kept assuring me that such was Not what he meant by pet rats, and finally convinced me to take a trip with him to one of the larger local pet stores to be introduced to what he Did mean.

No doubt I have "SUCKER" written across my forehead in huge, glowing, neon colored letters, because before we left the pet store, I had shelled out almost $100 for a pair of female hooded lab rats, cage, toys, food, and treats, so he could once again have his rats that he kept carrying on about.

Spaz and Lazy have grown on me. They're relatively clean, cheap to feed, don't make a lot of noise, and can be quite amusing to watch run around on the desk top or bed. They are also not going to be living with me much longer, as they are HIS rats, and as soon as he and his new.. female friend.. are back from moving her here to Oklahoma from Ohio, they go to his house within 48 hours. If they haven't been moved by the time he and she have been back in town for 48 hours, I intend to claim Spaz and Lazy as mine and keep them until they die of natural causes.

My dogs, on the other hand, are a completely different ball of wax. Zeus is a black lab mix, currently about 6 months old, that I acquired not long after he was weaned. way too full of energy, destructive, and likes to chew on everything. I intended for him to be the only canine member of the household, and even checked with the ex (since he still lived here at the time, and our relationship was still going) prior to getting the dog.

Worked great for a couple of weeks.

Then I went to the ex's job to pick him up from work one day. Shop dog on the property was a year old pit bull mix that looked ferocious, but is actually a big goober love hound named Chaos. He's aptly named, because he creates it even when sitting still. So there I was, playing with the "trained killer guard dog", when ex's boss comes out - sees me doing so, gets an evil grin on his face, and says it's obvious that I need to take Chaos home with me, cause he needs to get rid of the dog anyway. I tell him to talk to the ex, that it's not my decision to make. So he promptly turns around, looks at my ex, and asks him "You really want to do this favor for me, Don't You?"

Needless to say, less than 2 minutes later, I suddenly found myself in de-facto possession of a second canine for whom I was expected to be responsible. Where dealing with his boss asking him to do this "favor" is concerned, the ex obviously had big, glowing, neon letters spelling "DELUXE SUCKER" on His forehead.

From now on, I'm going to have someone tie me to a chair and stick a ball gag in my mouth, any time I start saying I want a pet. At least it should keep me from going and filling my home with four footed garbage disposals that require constant care and attention for a few hours. That's for after my current ones die of old age, by the way.