Pomp & Circumstances

Things never really go as planned, do they?

We’d scheduled a farewell event at our favorite local pub on Sunday. It was to be a casual, low-key affair, an opportunity for friends to drop by at their convenience and see us before we leave. Despite months of planning, it never happened; instead, we spent a good part of the day at an emergency veterinarian clinic. Which, trust me, was about a thousand times less fun than hanging out at Shanahan’s and eating fried pickles would have been.

The issue? Sydney had been vomiting for a few days. Add in a lack of appetite, lethargy, and anti-social behavior (normal in most cats but not her), and we knew something was wrong. So we took her in and after waiting many hours, they were able to see her and run some tests. Which came back inconclusive; her vitals were normal and there wasn’t anything obviously wrong. They suggested admitting her to the hospital and running an ultrasound, or giving us some anti-nausea meds and hoping for improvement in 24-48 hours. We chose Option B because yesterday alone set us back $800 – money that we were counting on for our move. I don’t know that we can swing anything more. Which makes the whole thing a bit stressful, with our move happening at the end of next week. Poor Sydney. It’s breaking our hearts to see her this way. And she just got a clean bill of health less than two weeks ago, so the whole thing really came out of the blue.

By the time we finally got home it was late in the afternoon, so we just hung around the apartment with Tara’s friend Betsy, who is visiting from Las Vegas. We listened to records and I made a pot of Italian wedding soup, the perfect antidote for a surprisingly cold and wet June weekend. After two extremely dry and warm months, it just figures that the one weekend we had a lot going on, the weather gods refused to cooperate. Looking ahead to late next week, they are predicting very hot weather the day we load the U-Haul, so that’s going to be fun.

At least Saturday worked out a little better. Audrey’s graduation went off without a hitch, crazy weather notwithstanding. There were torrential downpours during the ceremony, and even a little hail and thunder. But that didn’t stop her from beaming with pride when she accepted her diploma.

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Because Audrey was senior class treasurer, her name was the fourth one called. This was great – no waiting through an endless parade of names to reach hers (letter P). To be honest, we left right afterwards. But the place was so crowded we were in the very back at the top of the bleachers, standing. Fortunately, it was covered by a roof, but still. Why stick around after seeing what we came for? Instead, we went to Gustav’s and enjoyed a cocktail and some fondue. My parents, Audrey and her girlfriend, and Rusty joined us for dinner and a photo session afterwards. I think Tara did a great job, especially this one!

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And just like that, I have no kids in school anymore.

Back in 2006, when I got divorced, I knew I’d be bound to Vancouver, Washington, for the next 12 years, unable to move because of our shared custody arrangement. At the time I imagined that move would entail crossing the river to Portland, not uprooting my life for the Midwest. Ahh, life. It’s like I wrote in my opening paragraph.

In any case, it’s very hard to believe a dozen years have passed. And with that passage of time, I am now a father to two grown adults. I don’t know how to feel about that. There are moments of nostalgia, of course. Occasional despair over the idea of growing older. But also excitement. The future has never felt so wide open.

Countdown: 11 Days

 

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Soft Kitty, Stoned Kitty

If you’ve followed me for any significant amount of time, you know how important music is to my life. Tara and I have seen so many concerts over the past six years, we’ve lost track of the number. We were trying to figure this out a few nights ago and gave up, declaring it an impossible task. Our best guess? We’ve seen about 100 bands, give or take a dozen.

Knowing this, a blog reader recently asked a random question.

What is the music/entertainment scene like in Rapid City? Are you guys going to be going from The Music Hall of the Northwest to The Church Basement Puppet Show of the Midwest?

I couldn’t help but chuckle over her perception, because she basically hit the nail on the head. Portland is a hotbed of music venues and great shows, while Rapid City is…not a hotbed of music venues and great shows.

But that’s okay. I long ago came to terms with the idea of “retiring” from concert-going. If we never see another live show, that’ll be alright, because there aren’t many artists left that we haven’t seen or care about seeing (though it would be great if The Moondoggies came to town – are ya listening, Kevin?!). Plus, there’s the expense and the hassle and the ever-present danger of tinnitus.

Still, it would be nice to have a few options, you know? Currently we can travel to Deadwood to see has-beens or never-was’s perform in casinos, or catch somebody like Luke Bryan in the civic center. Neither is particularly appealing. So when an initiative to build a new arena in Rapid City hit the ballot, I was stoked. Voters were given a choice on Tuesday: renovate the aging, non-ADA compliant, too-small current Barnett Arena, or build a fancy new one.

I’d been following this measure with keen interest, bummed that we were unable to cast a vote ourselves. We missed the June 5 election by less than three weeks! Fortunately, the measure passed, and our soon-to-be-hometown will have a shiny new $130 million arena in a couple of years. Woo-hoo! Our concert-going days might not be over just yet.

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Sorry, buddy. Your days are numbered.

Good job, Rapid City. You’ve done me proud.


In other news, we tested out the Gabupentin Sydney’s veterinarian prescribed last week. Holy crap: that stuff works like a charm! I broke open a capsule on Sunday evening and mixed it into her wet food as instructed. Apparently it really is odorless and tasteless, because Sydney scarfed it down without a second thought. Two hours later, she was stumbling around like a drunken sailor on shore leave, and could barely lift her head. Before long she stopped trying, and pretty much plopped down and went to sleep. But it was a weird kind of semi-consciousness, because her eyelids never completely closed. It was actually heartbreaking to witness. We felt badly for her, but reminded ourselves that the medication is harmless. If anything, she was probably feeling really, really mellow. And the next morning she was back to her regular self, showing no signs of being stoned 12 hours earlier. So now we have confirmation: the medication will knock her out and she shouldn’t have a care in the world about being stuck in a car for a whole day.

We’d planned on taking her for a test drive before leaving, but at this point there is no time left for that. I think I’m going to try the first leg of our drive without medicating her. It’s about six hours to Spokane (probably have to figure on seven with the U-Haul and trailer); she’ll either cry the whole time or settle down after a little while. I’m hoping for the latter, but if not, I’ll just turn up the music and dose her up with Gabupentin for the all-day drive across Idaho and Montana the next day.

Countdown: 15 Days

Sleep Away Montana

Holy crap. It’s June.

There have been a lot of milestone dates as we counted down to our move – January 1 comes to mind (“we’re moving this year!”), as well as March 15 (“99 days – we’re down to double digits now!”) – but none have felt as momentous as today. Because now I can say we are moving this month!

It boggles my mind. I mean, on the surface this just feels like any old Friday, turning of the calendar page notwithstanding. But when this month draws to a close, our lives are going to be dramatically different than they are today. The office I’ve worked in for three years, the apartment I’ve lived in for four, the city I’ve called home since 1996 (!) – all will no longer be a part of my life. It doesn’t even feel like that’s possible, and yet, here we are. Barreling toward that moving date like a runaway locomotive. With broken brakes. Going downhill.

And actually, when July 1 rolls around, we’ll have been living in Rapid City for a week already. I won’t say it’ll feel like old hat by then – I’m sure the novelty will take a long time to wear off – but it won’t be a brand new new thing, either.

Three weeks, man. Three weeks.

This explains why we’ve been so damn productive lately. In the past week we have found a place to live, set up cable/internet and scheduled an installation appointment, Tara bought new tires for her vehicle, I changed the phone number I’ve had for 15 years, and we picked up a hand truck to assist with the move.

Panic is a great motivator, it would appear.

Part of the preparation included taking Sydney to the veterinarian. Our new apartment lease requires proof of current pet immunizations, and I realized that I had not taken my cat in to the vet clinic since I first adopted her. In 2007. Yes, I know that was 11 years ago. I feel badly about that, but at the same time, she is strictly an indoor cat and has never had so much as a single flea, let alone any health problems.

So I scheduled an appointment for yesterday morning and showed up promptly at 9:00. I apologized to the vet that I didn’t have any prior history on Sydney because I’d been lax in my cat dad duties, but there was no judgment on their parts. Instead, they raved over her. Called Sydney a “model patient” and said they wished every cat that came in was as chill as mine. You know, I’ve said many times over the years that Sydney is the best cat ever. I even use that hashtag on Instagram when posting pics of her. Y’all probably just assumed I’m biased, but everybody says that. Even those who profess not to like cats. Actually, the word they end up using is “cool.” And the staff at Hearthwood Dog & Cat Clinic were no exception. They commented on her great personality and even said that calicos are notoriously, umm, not-quite-so-nice. I’d always assumed they were quite docile based on Sydney, but I guess not!

She was super nervous in there; her heart was racing at 210 bpm, but that is because she never, ever leaves the apartment. The car ride in a small plastic box, followed by a strange, brightly-lit room with a bunch of people poking and prodding her freaked her out, I’m sure. Fortunately, she got a perfectly clean bill of health. In fact, the vet could not believe that she’s 12 years old. She’s got good eyes, excellent teeth, a strong heart, a healthy coat, and is the perfect weight. The veterinarian kept telling me “good job!” as if I had something to do with my cat’s excellent genes, but hey – that more than made up for the bad job I did in not bringing her in for regular exams, so I’ll take the kudos. Sydney did not even flinch when they gave her shots for rabies and distemper; the vet said she was probably so hopped up on adrenaline she didn’t feel a thing.

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Sydney being a trooper.

And before we left, she gave me a small bottle of Gabapentin in 100 mg capsules. “This will help with the road trip,” she said. I wanted to make a joke about how it’s okay, I’ve got stronger stuff I’ll be snorting the night before, but then I realized the pills are for my cat. You can understand my confusion, though; Gabapentin is actually a human drug used to treat pain and control seizures. Turns out veterinarians use it as a mild sedative for cats, as it reduces fear and anxiety and causes them drowsiness. She suggested I try it out on Sydney in advance before dosing her up, but assuming she tolerates it without any problems the stuff should keep her nice and mellow for about 12 hours. I’m hoping she sleeps her way across Montana.

Tonight we’ve got a show at the Doug Fir Lounge. We’re going to see Damien Jurado, an indie singer/songwriter who is sort of a cross between Nick Drake, Neil Young, and Lou Reed. Weird that this will be our last concert in the PNW! Then on Saturday we’re driving to Cannon Beach to say goodbye to the ocean.

Audrey graduates in one week. Our farewell party at Shanahan’s is the next day. Wow – things are happening so fast now!

Countdown: 21 Days

That Voodoo That I Do

A few weeks ago, we went through the pantry and mentally catalogued what was in there. After finding a random assortment of items – garlic chili paste, barley, a packet of fajita seasoning (to name but a few) – we began to plan dinners around those things in order to use them up. Waste not, want not is something my mom always said!

Actually, I don’t think she has ever uttered those words in her life. She also never told me to clean my plate because there are starving children in Africa and didn’t warn me not to make a face or it would freeze that way, so she missed the boat on stereotypical parenting tropes. But it’s sage advice regardless, so those odds and ends stashed on the back of the shelf turned into Asian lettuce wraps, beef and barley stew, and shrimp fajitas. Mmm, right? I’m thinking we should have cleaned out the pantry a heck of a lot sooner.

With our time here dwindling rapidly, we’re also being very conscientious with what we buy at the grocery store. Think a small bottle of cooking oil vs. a bigger one, for instance, because there is no way we’ll go through 48 ounces in five weeks, you know? I’d rather not haul boxes full of half-used groceries 1,250 miles.


Tara drove up to Tacoma to spend the weekend with her mom on Saturday, which gave me an opportunity to tie up a few loose ends.

Which is really just a fancy way of saying I ate a donut.

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Not just any donut, mind you. Long-time readers will recall my fondness for Voodoo Doughnut. I mean, we even served them at our wedding in lieu of cake. Despite this, I had not been there in years, for a variety of reasons. Namely, sugar. I mostly avoid it these days for health reasons. Also, if I’m being honest, Voodoo doesn’t make the best donut in town. I’m not even sure they’re in the top five. It’s all about the experience, which includes long lines of tourists, off-the-wall flavor combinations, and a few XXX-rated sugary confections.

But the bacon maple bar is really good, and I decided I needed one more in my life before we move.

Mission happily accomplished.

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On Sunday, I loaded Sydney into her carrier for a test run. Results were mixed.

First off, she is a full-time indoor cat. Has been for her entire life, the occasional foray onto the back deck being the lone exception. So the moment I carried her outside, she was uncomfortable. Started meowing on the way down the stairs, and really let loose once we were in the car and started driving.

But she sort of settled down after a bit. These quieter moments were punctuated by periods of not being settled down. All things considered though, the experience wasn’t as bad as I’d feared. I think she will eventually accept the fact that she’s going to be stuck in the car for a while and that cat brain of hers will conclude that complaining about it is useless.

Of course, we might be halfway across Montana before that happens…

Countdown: 38 Days

What’s Old is New Again

I have a coworker who just started watching The Office. He may be late to the party, but boy do I envy him right now. Imagine having nine glorious seasons’ worth of new-to-you episodes of a beloved, critically-acclaimed comedy series to watch?

Actually, I can. That happened to me just last year with Curb Your Enthusiasm.

So now this guy is coming into work every morning raving over the latest episode he has just seen, and his unabashed joy is contagious. God, I miss that show.

The only thing that would be even better than jumping into The Office for the first time? Doing that with Breaking Bad.

I can’t even imagine how amazing that would be.


My parents are currently in South Africa. I also really envy them; everybody talks about traveling the world when they retire, but how many people actually do so?

My folks have been to far too many countries to name. This three-week trip is their first on the African continent, and will include not one but two safaris.

Man. They are livin’ the dream.

I kind of hate that they are gone for such a long stretch right before we move away, but I’m sure they had no idea we were actually leaving when they planned the trip.

Or, knowing my dad, he just said “the hell with ’em – we’re seeing zebras!” and signed on the dotted line regardless.


With my parents gone, our weekend will include borrowing their grill and sunroom again. It’s become a tradition.

We’re also going to hit the farmer’s market for the first time this season (shame on us!). Plus, do some more packing. We missed last weekend since we were out having fun, so we’ve got some ground to make up.

One of the trickiest things is going to be transporting Sydney halfway across the country. She has been on very few car rides in her life, and I want to make her as comfortable as possible. After doing some research, I bought the following carrier, which comes highly recommended by many people.

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She looks right at home, huh? Acclimation is key. We are leaving the carrier out in the living room, and she frequently makes herself right at home in there.

I think we are going to start taking her on short car rides, as well. So we’ll add that to Sunday’s agenda.

Countdown: 49 Days