Thursday, July 13, 2006

Coddling (2 Days)

Rain taps against the sidewalks outside, trickling from the rain gutters, splattering against the leaves, and cooling the air with wet. Dixie, our Jack Russell Terrier who underwent a successful surgery yesterday, has been groaning off and on throughout the morning. Now, after perking up enough to wag her tail and lick my face a little, she’s curled up beside me, sleeping. Archie, our Italian Greyhound, is wrapped in a blanket a couple of inches from her, after spending a few minutes outside in the rain.

As for me, I've spent what time today wasn't spent nursing Dixie contemplating the notion of starting an online literary magazine. Granted, there are thousands (or more) of sites floating in the ether of the web, but is there room for one more? And would it be worth my time? And what would I name it?


Last night, I decided to buy myself a domain name and procure hosting for that oft-contemplated literary webzine. I spent hours contemplating names, imagining logos, icons, and design elements. Plus, I spent hours searching the Internet for a hosting company that wasn’t too horribly expensive but offered features enough for me to build that hypothetical website without learning far more HTML, hiring someone, or buying a ton of software.

Around midnight, I thought I’d found a good deal based on the description on a particular company’s website. I entered my info, read the terms and conditions, and clicked the submit button.

As soon as I had enough information to get to the control panel, I was there, cruising around and looking for the tools that had lured me to that particular host. I even went so far as to set up three email addresses: one for me, one for my wife, and one for future submissions. But when I looked for anything to help with the design of web pages, I found nothing. Instead, every last icon was grayed out and unavailable for the plan I'd purchased—even the items that were touted in bright blue print elsewhere on the company’s website. When I chatted with the folks at customer service, they were polite enough, but informed me that I'd need to upgrade to a plan that cost almost twice as much to see those services.

Bait and switch.

I cancelled the account and asked for my money back. I assume that they'll keep that promise, at least. I also made a report to the Better Business Bureau. Actually, that's the first time that I ever felt angry enough to file a complaint—even though I tend to see hucksters and scam artists everywhere. So, I suppose, when I was certain that I someone tried to rip me off, and not just suspicious, I filed a complaint.

The whole process, a cocktail of unbridled enthusiasm and hope at a new undertaking mixed with fountains of disappointment, kept me awake well past any reasonable bedtime. And I was expecting business that morning.


The dogs have been crated for the night. Archie, the Italian Greyhound, whimpers in his birdlike way. Dixie has looked at me with pleading eyes for much of the night—much of it due to the soreness of the incision from her surgery.

I have spent the day waiting for work that never came and coddling my dog. I managed two naps on the sofa—one in the early morning and one through the late afternoon. During both naps, Archie curled in a crevice at the crook of my knees, and Dixie sprawled across my torso, carefully adjusting her weight so that no pressure fell on the stitches and the reddened skin they hold together.

For brief intervals, she behaved as though nothing were wrong. She gnawed for a few minutes on a favorite rope, gulped down treats of shredded cheese, and stalked June bugs on the front porch. Yet, today, she's spent far more time acting as though she were in serious pain. Worse, the pain makes her shiver with fear if she thinks Michelle or myself want to examine her wound or pick her up or do anything she might perceive as threatening.


Life has a habit of interloping on dreams and ambition. I suppose it should be impossible to write poem or contemplate a story when someone (or in my case something) you love is in pain. A simple touch or the mere fact of your presence can sometimes mean so much more than a few measly words might ever mean. Personally, I'd rather be a good person than a good poet, and in many ways, I suspect the former is more difficult to achieve than the latter.

But then again, I like to imagine that there are moments in everyone's life when something like a poem might help make that simple touch or the fact of your presence easier to manage. And, if I'm wrong in this, I may as well stop writing.

After all, I could make a decent living penning the fluff in a corporate newspaper or copyediting financial reports.


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