Cat in the bathroom. Cat named Goose. Baby Goose is her full name. She doesn’t just purr, she meow-purrs, which comes out like some kind of Amazonian frog, humid mating trills in the depths of the forest at 0200.

We have Olympics again. Brazilian, this time, which is Anglo-Saxon for “stripped of all vegetation to appease the beef.” US is once again demonstrating what the richest country on the planet can do when global bragging rights are on the line. And boo those Russians, boo boo boo those Russians, it’s totally anti-American to take performance-enhancing, ahem, drugs, ahem Bonds McGuire A-Rod Manny Santana Palmeiro Sosa plus whoever got caught this week. But baseball isn’t an Olympic sport anymore, so screw off, vodka-swilling degenerates.

What’s it like to have a degenerative disease in a country that raises so much money for cancer research. At the ballgame we were given t-shirts and signs to write names on and told to stand up for those loved ones in our lives with cancer, and I’m hopeful this means something and does some good for sick people but I’m also wondering how this feels to those in wheelchairs who forgot what it was like to stand up a long time ago. Also, I should look up what degenerative disease means before I go throwing it around willy-nilly because degenerative seems like it could describe cancer, too.

I’m in need of research but short a good collegiate library, plus access to the databases the membership in a college program provides. Google can only teach you so much. I heard there was a giant (illegal) leak of academic articles online somewhere. Of course it’s illegal, wouldn’t be a leak otherwise. My writing has really stalled on this novel since leaving the realm of academia. Not that I was in the heavy research phase when last I was busy on it, but I knew I could get into the research of it, at any time, and that was comfort enough to plow ahead, writing about countries and people and customs I’ve no firsthand knowledge of but felt reasonably sure I could get the human side of things down and iron out the cultural complexities later. Mainly Vietnam. I can Wikipedia all I want, and I never set out to write about Vietnam because war is not a particularly engaging subject for me, but it’s come up in the novel and I need to know what I’m talking about there, and I feel hamstrung.

We’re up to three miles. Almost three miles. It’s kind of amazing progress, given the time we’ve had to do it, plus other obstacles namely the Summer of Nonstop Wedding Stuff. I’m doing my best to be right there with her, getting her prepared for this vast shift in occupation and lifestyle, and it’s not all goodwill on my part, like I’m keeping an eye on her training, too, not to oversee or take responsibility for, or credit for, but because I really don’t like the idea of my wife getting hurt, and if she’s going to get hurt I want to be there to help, and now I’m suddenly realizing this is something that will soon be swiftly and completely out of my control. I’ve played sports for years and suffered a variety of injuries and I feel better knowing that if something happens I would be there to probably know what to do.

Did I ever tell you about the time I got knocked out. Did you see me at that one intramural soccer game in graduate school where, playing goalie, I slid out on a player who wasn’t skilled enough to get out of the way and I took a knee to the dome and fought off dizziness and lack of balance to stay in the game for some reason. I was a good defender, in basketball, sometimes, were you there during that JV game when the player I was guarding got fed up with me some time in the third quarter and intentional threw the ball into my nuts. First game of varsity football, when I stood up and tried to put my arm back down to my side but it stayed levitated at a ninety degree angle and I looked over at my coach and said it won’t go, it won’t go.

My first move to Texas I took all of my pets and none of my furniture. When I got there I rented a U-haul for a day and dashed around to various Craigslisted ad posters and Goodwills. I bought a couch and lived on the second floor and had no friends yet. I moved it myself. Up the wooden stairs, which angle back onto the themselves into a meager front deck of the four-apartment complex, which required some couch contortions I’m still not sure how I pulled off.

I pulled off the couch cushions because Baby Goose has fleas and we thought we’d rid her of them so we brought her down to socialize and she purred in fits and twerps and then I found a flea on my arm. Little bugger got away. Cat’s back in the bathroom. I sprayed down the couch. It’s a solvent that smells similar to nail polish remover, and I’m hoping it works, that that one escaped flea was not the harbinger but the outlier, that the two other dead ones I removed from the cuddle towel plus the dead on I found upon initial upholstery inspection prove to be more the trend, or even the rule. I shudder to recall my last flea experience. It was in Virginia, another four-apartment building, our cats were indoors and we had no carpeting but they got in anyway. Somehow. Flea powders, flea baths, flea bombs, it took a month before I could stop immediately inspecting every stray skin tickle with a paranoiac’s intensity.

I’m not writing fiction right now, which means I’m not currently a writer, not by my definition. I haven’t the resource of coconspirators as I did in grad school. I also haven’t a rival. I’ve got no one to outdo, no one to best. The writers still in my life, I want them to succeed. I don’t lack for encouragement. I lack the voices of doubters. People who just don’t get me but have to read me anyway. If you’re reading this, chances are high you get me. I want for criticism, to a point, but more than that I want for a real piece of shit to get accolades in front of me. Someone I can’t avoid, whom I have to see around the place, acting all happy but with a silent reserve of doubt for me to prey upon. I need someone who thinks he’s better than me but knows he’s not, who’s content to ride the wave of glad-handed popularity and accolades from the Easily Digestible Times as far as it will take him, so I can work to be there when the wave crashes and I can show him his black-meat soul, withering in my palm.

Happiness scares me. Fleas scare me, but happiness, contentedness. What are you suppose to do with that.

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