Saturday, May 27, 2017

Dear Death: I See You Here

This is not a funny post. Today was a bad day. My vet told me to do a good day/bad day jar for a couple of weeks, but I don't really need it.

Death is stalking my household.

Thanatos waits patiently in the shadowed corners of my living room while we watch movies and bark quietly at neighborhood kids or invisible monsters in the back yard. Badb is hanging out cross-legged on the floor under a desk in my office, casually flipping through books in my library, content but staying close.

If I'm lucky. Persephone is working on a new spot with Thor: one with enough toys that they can steal from each other again.

I know the sensation of Death lingering in my house. I've done this already.

We are getting to the point that "tired" is more than just sleeping between meals and an exhausting barking session. It's a look in the eyes, a distinct need for comfort that forces failing legs to keep trying to push 110lbs up the stairs so he can sleep near a person. It's the sad expression when I pick up the leash, and half-hearted attempt to get up only to lie next to the open door, because the urge to pee isn't strong enough to bother going out even though it's been nearly 12 hours.

He's not ready, but I think we're within a week or two now. Taking responsibility for another living creature is a double edged razor. The vet says the timing is up to me. What that really means is I'm no longer monitoring and caring for Chewy to provide him with quality of life, but quality of death. Some would argue there are many reasons to make that choice on his behalf - send him on before he suffers, the expense involved in waiting, the disruption to my life, moving on.

Responsibility is a heavy burden because it's SUPPOSED to be heavy. Who the hell am I to determine how much of his life to cut off? People who bring up the expense involved are talking a bout the vet bills, the pills, the time involved in waiting for him to struggle back inside twice a day. But the real expense is the waiting, the burden of choosing when to invite Death formally instead of letting her hang out, because at some point the suffering is just enough. But I am only a caretaker: Chewy will let me know when he hits that point. Thor did.

We, people, humans, are so afraid of Death visiting that we'll do damn near anything to avoid it. Dogs are different. They'll fight to survive until it's time, and when it's time they're just...ready. They've done their jobs here, they've loved and protected and forgiven, and they let you know they're ok.

My vet is truly a fantastic man. When we let Thor go, he warned me what might happen - convulsions, bodily fluids, scary and awful struggling against the soul slipping from the body. He told me so I wouldn't be surprised, so I could stay in the room and be a comfort instead of a basket case. NONE of that happened with him - in fact, he give a little sigh of relief and just slipped off his body like an uncomfortable jacket that's gotten too tight.

I want that for Chewy, too. I want an easy death that relieves him from his broken down body and gives him freedom to bark at ALL THE THINGS. I want Thanatos to give him quiet sleep, and Badb to take him on a long, leisurely walk. There's always the chance that won't happen, that his passing will be somehow scarring. I hope not.

I suppose I'll find out in the next couple of weeks, because I know this countdown.

He stole a loaf of bread today while I got coffee. He was so proud of reaching it I can't even be all that mad, even though it was MINE MINE MINE. Cheeseburgers and treats will be the order of the days ahead, and a lot of sitting in the grass so he can just hang out and do what he loves best - watching over the neighborhood. Until it's time to stop.

Yes, I could say Tuesday is the day and we could be done and save me the emotional stress of Death becoming my temporary roommate. But that's not my job here. I'm not afraid to wait with him. I'm not afraid to make the decision or lie with him on the floor in the vet's office, or let him go.

When it's time, I will ask Death to walk my dog gently, and kindly request no more visits for a long while. Until then, we're sitting in companionable quiet, listening to Chewy's quiet breathing while he dreams.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

The Red: An Erotic Fantasy by Tiffany Reisz (Spoiler-Free Review)

"Art should be dangerous, you know. It should say something to society that society doesn't want to hear. Do you know what the opposite of art is? Propaganda." -  The Red

This review is safe for work. The book isn't.

Mona Lisa St. James made a deathbed promise to her mother, vowing to keep their struggling little art gallery open "at all costs." Months later, she's about to fail the promise and just desperate enough to take up the mysterious Malcolm's (no last name) shockingly straightforward offer: become his, on demand, for the next twelve months and make enough money to save her business. Over the next year, Mona finds out the exact cost of keeping that promise, in explicit detail, and discovers some fascinating secrets about her odd lover and his artwork-themed demands.

I often recommend Ms. Reisz's novels because she doesn't write simple smut (that's right: she writes complicated smut), or syrupy romance, and The Red lives up to my expectations. I love Reisz's work for the depth of character and fascinating navigation through complicated and taboo sexual situations. The underpinnings of the story is an exploration of Mona's value, of her own sense of self-worth that becomes stronger and more pronounced as her boundaries are pushed, and her discovery of what she really wants. It's downright voyeuristically compelling, watching Mona's thoughts and actions evolve with each new level of debauchery.

Oh my God, the debauchery. Make no mistake: this is definitely a Tiffany Reisz erotic novel.

Seriously well written, unapologetic lust exists between those covers. I tossed sleep aside to finish it in a night, and this book is worth it, although I may never look at a bottle of water the same way again. From an erotica perspective, The Red has at least one kink that will appeal to you and at least one that will make you terribly uncomfortable. I know what you're thinking, and I definitely don't mean the "blushing and you hope no one notices because WHY are you reading this in public" sort of uncomfortable.

I mean the uncomfortable where you're certain this particular kink shouldn't be so arousing because it's so dirty, but you're turned on anyway. You'll think about it for days afterward and read it again, and you'll want to recommend it to friends but worry they'll figure out that scene worked for you. THAT sort of uncomfortable.

Of course, part of the fun of reading The Red is discovering which encounters fall under which category for you.

The Red is a standalone novel, available on July 11th, 2017 in paperback and e-formats (Kindle is available for pre-order). If you enjoyed her Original Sinners series I don't have to recommend this one, because you already know exactly why you'll love this book. If you're new to Ms. Reisz's work, I highly recommend picking up The Red as soon as you can: it's an excellent mix of erotica and dominant/submissive dynamics, with a hint of the supernatural for flavor.

The Red is definitely exactly the right sort of dangerous art.