Critiques & Content
I've been writing. I completed (mostly) Nanoreno 2018, barring some missing art assets, and am now working on another project in the interim (awaiting more art assets).
That, plus what seems to be tendinitis + carpal tunnel lately makes writing a bit more difficult to achieve.
Excuses are excuses nonetheless. Apologies.
I've been a bit of a schlemiel with regards to updating this, but I have good reason, I promise! I've produced two interactive fiction pieces, that one can see on my new page dedicated to those "Twine Tales." One was produced for the Ace Jam 2018, the other for the Twine Jam 2018. Feel free to take a look and listen to the music I wrote as well.
It's only two days after the turn from 2017 to 2018 and it feels as though nothing has really changed. That makes sense, but it goes against the spirit of the season. Everyone ambles up to the new year with a list of resolutions as long as the day is cold, cheering towards progress. This ambiance flooded Facebook, with everyone posting about what the new year means to them-- and I've become apart of that crowd in the writing of this.
I still live in the same apartment I've been living in for over a year now, I'm still single, I still work in the same job, but there's nothing wrong with these things remaining static. Change is good, but change doesn't have to be foisted upon me. I can choose to embrace it when it arrives, but I don't have to upend my life solely to fulfill that purpose.
Nonetheless, not wanting to change isn't necessarily healthy either. Stagnation is a common ailment. I need to look to change where it makes sense. To that aim, I took baby's first steps towards doing anything and bought a yoga mat. It meets my agenda of some sort of fitness and coincides with my deep seated desire to not go out into the cold.
I can complain and talk in circles all I want, so I'll get to the meet of what I should aim for, actual resolutions.
I resolve that this year I'll do some degree of semi-regular yoga or some other fitness activity, because I should. I resolve that I'll complete at least one project that's been languishing in a state of incompleteness, optimally the Dragrace Pentina Project listed on this blog. I want to read more books again, write more, submit more things to literary magazines and the like. I want to be my biggest fan I suppose, and pursue my happiness with a fervor.
As long as the year is still young and I work on working towards things, well, that's good. There's no crime in "losing" on your resolutions except for shame, but I have no need for shame and guilt and its kind. Perfect is the enemy of good and I'm trying to resolve to be better, one thing at a time.
That and I can't ironically call myself trash if I'm not making resolutions to break later, like everyone else that I'm implicitly mocking for making the same posts themselves. It wouldn't be ethical to leave myself out of the proverbial line of fire that existed only in my head up until this point.
Rigby was always a spiteful dog to me. I'd go sit next to him on the couch and he would squirm away from me. I'd try to hold him closer and he'd inch away to whichever of his favorites were closer. If I had food to give him, that made me worthy of attention until my father or brother would do the same. He would wait until my father left his seat, hoping for any scrap of meat long after the rest of us had finished eating.
He knew how much I desired for him to lay himself along my lap, like how he would for my brother or father-- the few times I could get him to do so was with the offer of food or pulling him onto my lap and his willingness to stay put. I just wanted to shower him in my affection, hold his warm body close to mine and hug for all I was worth.
Now I'm not trying to make it sound like he was just a large plush toy. I just wanted the same affection he lavished upon my brother and father. But no matter how I tried, I couldn't get that out of him. When I was picked up to visit my family and he rode in the car, he would attentively sniff me for all of a minute before returning to his traditional forward-facing posture in the car. It's not as though he didn't love me; he just loved others more. It hurt, but not in a meaningful way, no more than a baby crying out for its parents would hurt the friend holding it. My father was Rigby's world.
He was the sun, the moon, the stars and the sky, the earth and the ground. When he was away for more than a normal day's length, Rigby would get upset. He would sit in the dining room, head to the floor, waiting forlornly for my father's return. My brother was a poor man's substitute, having gone with my mother to pick him from the pound. He would sleep in my brother's bedroom when the parents were away, seeking not to be lonely.
Now though, now he's committed his final act of spite and it's not just aimed towards me like usual. He came down with a terrible illness, one not easily treated. He couldn't put up the will to fight, to eat food, to try and recover. He was a superstitious dog, attributing food to the cause of his illnesses whenever he got sick, becoming picky and this time, he wouldn't eat anything at all. His body was attacking itself and he just didn't have the strength to fight back. His final act of spite was to give up and leave us all hurting after these five years with him.
We laid him down to rest, the doctors saying he likely had a stroke from the blood clotting amidst the auto-immune disorder that was tearing his body to shreds. The day before he had been listless but strong enough to turn around. He looked at us, seemingly able to recognize his beloved family, but unable to gather strength. He still refused to eat no matter how we tried to entice him. He kept turning, feebly lifting himself up, struggling for a comfortable position not unlike how he would turn around and around to settle onto his bed. They said he wasn't in pain but just truly unwell, the agony of when one's body is falling apart.
They had given us a mixed description of him. He was potentially doing better, but he wasn't doing much better. They had described his pee looking like port wine, with all the red blood cells he was losing through it. And through the night, he took a turn for the worse, requiring the necessary blood fusion to even live. When we saw him today, we could no longer deny it was time to relieve him of his misery, to end his discomfort. It was possible he would get better but that didn't seem to be the case.
He couldn't even track us around the room this time. They wheeled him in, the little prince, swaddled in a white blanket. Yesterday he had been laying upon a pink towel, but today it was white and he was covered. I imagine he would have been shivering if he had the strength to move, but it was hard to tell if there was even recognition in his eyes any longer. We pet him, kissed him, stroked his fur, perhaps secretly hoping that he would become responsive and lively, suddenly gain strength in spite of the doctor's reports. But no, he didn't move at all. His breathing was heavy and rapid, fighting for the oxygen that became harder to access with the continued decline of his red blood cells.
It got to the point where it sounded like he was whimpering. He was releasing these anguished whimper-breaths, increasing in volume. I'm not sure which is worse to believe: that those were purely from being unable to breath and not from the illness he was feeling and trying to communicate to his family, or the last whimpers of sadness pleading with his father, his world to rescue him from the sickness. I want to believe he knew we were there, that we loved him.
I had felt so terrible when he first went off to the hospital. I worried that the tiny pecan he had eaten had caused his illness-- he refused eating it initially but I gave it to him again and he scarfed it down. He had always had eyes larger than his stomach, begging for food but spitting it out if it didn't taste that well. Rigby had eaten carrots when we first got him but now he had only eating them for the crunch, the breaking of those orange cylinders not unlike how he would crunch branches and discard them outside as opposed to continuing a game of catch. But no, the doctors were clear that this wasn't food poisoning and while my guilt from causing his discomfort evaporated, my worries only increased.
My parents had to leave him at the hospital due to his critical condition, and I hoped that he knew we loved him. I hoped we knew he wasn't being abandoned. I don't know if the family ever knew how he ended up in the pound. I know I didn't. But I always wondered if he was abandoned, given how he seemed so dismayed whenever my father went away for a period of time. When he was left overnight the first time, I hoped he was comfortable, as comfortable as he could be with this ailment. I hoped he knew that he wasn't abandoned, just that we couldn't nurse him back to health like had been when he had a serious liver ailment years before.
The second night, I almost came to terms with his death. The doctors said that the prognosis would take three to five days at minimum for determining the progress of his treatment, but I think we all knew he was in the death spiral with his refusal to eat food. It had been days since the last time he ate. It had been days since Thanksgiving. If he couldn't even eat, well, would he even have the will to go on?
I tried to refrain from crying too much when we saw him. I think we all did, and we'll have to be alone and separate to allow ourselves to cry as uglily as we need. If one of us went off significantly, like a funeral wailer, I'm sure the rest of us would have fallen apart and we were trying to put on a brave face for the dog we loved so much. I had felt so terrible those nights, enjoying myself in the comfort of our home, eating foods, feeling altogether well while he suffered. Unlike human hospitals where family members often pull shifts sitting with the patient, we had left Rigby alone.
Even worse, we had to define value of his life. This treatment was expensive. In principle, we could have prolonged it, but at what cost? Would his quality of life be the same afterwards? The doctor said dogs have recovered from strokes, but he wasn't even eating. With a human, they can tell you how they're feeling. Rigby, for all we loved him, was unable to, no matter how many times I told him to use his words instead of growling at me. We had to determine the cost of a life and that's just terrible.
As he made those whimper-cries, being calmed down to the ragged breathing by my father, his world, we couldn't watch the suffering any longer. We requisitioned the doctors to enter and administer the treatment, my father holding him the whole time. I would occasionally reach out, at one point feeling as though his body had grown colder. I think that's the moment he officially passed on. The doctor took out her stethoscope and listened to his lack of a heartbeat, confirming his departure and we moved on, unwilling to linger any longer.
For the five years and change my family had Rigby, I only got to interact with him for around three. The first year they got him I was nearing the end of college. I was there the day we brought him home. I carried him out of the car into the backyard, his body squirming. He had never liked to be picked up but at the time I had figured it was just general fear of strangers. But I was away for another month or two of schooling, and then I went away for August in pursuit of my career aspirations. And now, closer to the present I've moved away. I've been living away from home for over a year now, only seeing Rigby when I returned home for the holidays or other family matters.
For all the time we had Rigby, it feels as though mine was even shorter and yet I'm so thankful to have had that time with him. We had joked about what we were thankful for Thanksgiving, kitschy experience that it is, but it feels all to appropriate to talk about how thankful I was for Rigby in spite of his spiteful behavior towards me.
He was company when the house was quiet. He was willing to lean on me when sick or healthy. He was always delighted to be fed. He was pompous when on walks, sometimes straining against the leash until we rounded the corner if my father wasn't the one to take him out. He fought against me when I tried going running with him, seeking to smell the all-too familiar smells of the neighborhood amidst the intervals of sprinting. He was a picky eater when it came to dog food, preferring the food my family had on our plates on the table. He was spoiled at the table, against the recommendations of dog trainers everywhere. He was trained just enough, willing to listen to "Sit", "Down" and "Stay" if it suited his needs or a treat was offered. He was our dog and we will dearly miss him.
His last gift of spite to me was to make me dreadfully sad and yet I know he didn't mean it, just like the time he snapped at me when I was too close for his comfort, accidentally bruising the skin. He was abashed that day, tail down, ashamed of his action. I was upset at this action then and took a while before I was willing to accept his contrition. I'm sure he wouldn't be ashamed of succumbing to his sickness and I don't blame him for it as much as I want to and somewhat have throughout this post. He'd just be sad he had hurt us, like how he had hurt me before and hoping I would forgive him. His spite was to go away so that I couldn't accept his apology like before. And yet I still love him anyway.
As the tears periodically stream down my face, my voice cracking and breaking into sobs, I still write in honor of the prince, the senator, the beloved best friend, the son/brother, the little baby we loved so much. I love you, Rigby, in spite of your spite. But you knew that anyway, you always did and you always have.