I've had Izzy for ten months now, and every day I am thankful beyond words that we found each other. That being said, trying to socialize her with other dogs continues to be a struggle. (Izzy was approximately three when I got her from the shelter last year, and no one knows anything about her history. She loves people, she flinches when things are thrown, though she's getting better, and most of the time, she hates other dogs ... and horses and buses, which she thinks are giant dogs. I don't even know. You are part cattle dog, Izzy, shouldn't you like horses?)
Anyway, we stick to the neighborhood for morning and evening walks during the week, but when we're in Kansas City on weekends, we go to the dog park. A few months ago, I found one just down the street from me, which probably shouldn't surprise me, but did. (Back in 2012, I moved from the suburbs into the city itself, just outside of downtown.) There's even an off-leash section. We generally only go there if both sides are empty, because of Izzy's issue with other dogs, but this morning, the big dog side (which is where she belongs, technically) had only a couple dogs and the small dog side was empty, so I decided to try her on the small dog side. (I've been working on introducing her to other dogs via fences; when I go down to visit family, I'll let her loose in Dad's backyard. His neighbors have a couple friendly labs, and Izzy and the labs will run up and down the fence together now, playing, so that is a plus. Also, Izzy and Dad's teacup poodle, Cocoa, have finally learned to be in the same room together without being kept apart, so that was good too.)
Izzy really, really wanted to go play with the big dogs. She was on good enough behavior alone on the small dog side, that I decided to try her on the big dog side. It was empty enough I knew I could get to her easily if she started causing trouble, and she was obeying all commands even with other dogs around, so I felt pretty good about it.
Right decision. She had an amazing time making friends with the other dogs and other people, she ran and ran and ran, she didn't fight over toys or water dishes or other dogs coming up to me for pets. It was lovely and fun, a beautiful morning with storm clouds blowing in (though it didn't storm here, last night or so far today -- other parts of Missouri got hit instead), and she ran herself to exhaustion.
Of course, when we left, another dog and owner left at the same time. The moment Izzy and I got in the car, she started her barking freak out at the other dog, even though she had literally been playing with him 60 seconds earlier. Whatever, progress, I'm taking it.
Over the past five or six months, I've been listening to podcasts. This would have been far more useful back when I lived in the suburbs and had a commute that could range anywhere from two to three hours a day and up, but instead I waited until I lived ten minutes from work on a bad day. Yeah, go me. As Sarah likes to tease me, I'm one of those stupid smart people. (I wore a shirt backward a few weeks ago, and didn't notice until afternoon. It was a cowl neck shirt. Of course, I not only texted her about it, but I then sent her a picture as proof, because I apparently encourage her trolling of me.)
I try a variety of podcasts (and if you have any recommendations, I'd love to hear them), but the ones I keep going back to are (in the order they appear on my podcast app):
Talk is Jericho: Pro-wrestler, lead singer of Fozzy, and author, Chris Jericho is a freaking delight. I started listening because of this WWE kick Sarah and Craig started me on about a year ago, but I keep listening because he has a fantastic wide variety of guests who say really great things. (At one point, a guest talked about mental health stigma in a way that impressed the hell out of me.) I think I probably like his music guests the most, but he is really good at keeping the conversations rolling.
the Steve Austin Show (Unleashed!): Pro-wrestler, actor, reality tv host, Steve Austin leaves me laughing every single time I listen to him. I didn't expect to enjoy this podcast so much. Stone Cold predates my wrestling interest (by a lot, obviously), so there wasn't that appeal, and I keep seeing him presented as this conservative good ole boy. And in some ways, he probably is, but not at all in the way I was worried about. Plus he reminds me a lot of the bikers and trikers I love, so that's a plus. And he's just -- well, he, too, is a freaking delight.
Books on the Nighstand: I have a hard time listening to this one unless I am easily able to take notes, because they do often recommend a book I want to grab. I'm not as big a fan of this as I want to be, but every time I think about ending my subscription, they'll talk about something fantastic, and I decide to keep listening. My favorite part is the audiobook recommendation at the end of (nearly) every episode. I'm trying to listen to more audiobooks, because I'm having such a great time with the podcasts, and having recommendations helps a lot.
Howl Out Cast: I want to like this podcast, which is dedicated to werewolves, far more than I do. There's something about the format, the disorganization maybe? The wandering conversations?, that keeps me from getting into the episodes, but I keep trying. I love werewolves, and this would be a great resource, if only I enjoyed listening to it more. (Another problem is that each episode is long.)
Welcome to Night Vale: I don't keep up to date on this, but I'll listen to a bunch of episodes at a time when I'm on a road trip. I like the story it's telling a lot, most of the time, but I've not been sucked into it the way pretty much everyone I know who listens to it has, and I'm not sure why. Description from the website: WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE is a twice-monthly podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather, news, announcements from the Sheriff's Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, and cultural events. Turn on your radio and hide.
BBC Radio 4 General Knowledge Quizzes: I love trivia games, and this cycles through various ones. It's been on Brain of Britain, which I find interesting, but horribly difficult without having the same knowledge base (though, in Vegas, I listened to an episode with Sarah and Craig, and they said the questions were pretty difficult); my favorite so far has been less straight trivia and more trivia + logic puzzle esque questions + puns. I hope it cycles back through soon.
The Art of Wrestling with Colt Cabana: I listened to an episode of this because Colt interviewed a WWE wrestler I really like, Dean Ambrose. I keep listening to it even though most of the pro wrestlers he talks to are indie wrestlers, and therefore I don't know much if anything about them, because it is still incredibly interesting to hear their stories.
NPR's Ask Me Another: Trivia and puns.
Stuff You Missed in History Class: Does what it says on the tin, and is by far my favorite podcast. I've even gone all the way back to the beginning to listen (though I keep up with recent episodes first), and while I did this for Jericho and Austin as well, their podcasts started fairly recently. This one went back years. The current hosts are my favorite voices and personalities, but it's been a lot of fun.
Sarah and I decided to try a new way of writing, in that we outlined an entire five book series, and then set about writing first drafts of all five books. We started this late last year, and finished the first draft of the first book earlier this year. We have since finished first drafts of books two, three, and four (as of yesterday), and are making our way through book five now. Apparently, this writing organization works incredibly well for us. We have one mostly set writing day a week (Saturdays), though we also try to write at least a little bit on Sundays, and sometimes Wednesday and Friday evenings, depending on work and whether either of us can sleep. (We're both insomniacs, unfortunately.) We have a video call via Skype, and write in the same document in Google Drive. It's a very intertwined process at this point; Sarah's strengths are dialog, humor, and character interactions, while mine are descriptions, fisticuffs and gore, and atmosphere. We both have certain characters we understand better than others, or scenes from the outline we are eager to write.
Often we go back and forth; one of us will start a chapter, and write until we have nothing else, then the other will pick it up, and so on. Sometimes, a chapter is dialog heavy or description heavy, so we know which of us will take the lead. Sometimes, one of us will have an entire scene in her head, and the other will read along, making small changes (for example, I add a lot of dialog tags and descriptions around her dialog; Sarah often has a conversation ready to go by the time we reach a specific scene). Sometimes, we'll sit and stare at a blank document, bemoaning the fact this series has far too many fisticuffs and murders and snogging. (Ok, no lie, usually that's me, because I am terrified I will end up writing these fight scenes and snogging scenes as cookie cutter scenes, and I don't want to do that.)
It's a lot of fun, and the stories are fantastic. We sent book one out to first readers, but then we decided to write the entire series before we started editing each book, so we're waiting to send the other books to our first readers until the first draft of each book is done. Which will apparently be soon, the way we're going.
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