cover me/i’m on fire

Where did the last three months go? Time is flying by. Not only can’t I believe how quickly the last three months went by, I also can’t believe it’s been thirty years today since The Breakfast Club kids had detention. Anyway, the two anthologies Becky and I labored over, Foolish Hearts: New Gay Fiction and Best Gay Romance 2014, were published at the end of January and the beginning of February. As you can tell by this hideously late entry on my blog and the lack of other postings on my website about the new books, I’m failing on the promotion side of my job as an editor. Not failing, perhaps, because I am promoting them on Twitter and Facebook, and I am participating in whatever interviews and blog book tour emails my publisher sends my way. So maybe I get a C-.

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I did, however, take the initiative and contacted OutSmart Magazine, Houston’s local gay publication, and let them know Becky and I had books coming out. All I hoped for was that they might review them. Instead, the editors said they’d run a featured article on us. Then the publisher said he has rescue dogs and also wanted to focus on RPM, and would that be okay? Of course! Becky and I did a phone interview, which isn’t one of my favorite things to do. I never know what to say and get stuck editing my answers in my head before speak. This interview was kind of funny, though. We always have a hard time hearing people on speakerphone because whenever someone calls that’s when your dog always wants to bark, run around, and make a lot of noise, right? Multiply that by five and you have an idea of why Becky and I always mouthing What did they say? and I don’t know to each other during conference calls. But for this phone interview I had the brilliant idea of us getting into my new car at the appointed hour and using the bluetooth system so we could crank up the speakers and hear what was being asked of us. Technology was against us, however, because for whatever reason, the bluetooth system didn’t pick up the call and we were stuck in my Ford C-Max for an hour, hovering over my iPhone as usual, as if we were in a hybrid isolation booth that gets 40 mpg. However, the absence of dog noise was nice, and it was to be able to recline in the seats and relax!

The magazine also asked us to meet with Theresa DiMenno, so she could photograph us for the article. Theresa and I exchanged emails and spoke on the phone about her concept for the photoshoot, which was Becky and I hanging out in the park next to the Menil Collection on a blanket with our books, happy and enjoying life. I thought it was a great idea. Especially since our characters in The Deal hang out in the very same park in a chapter of that book. I also liked the idea because I’d been incredibly busy with RPM and couldn’t remember the last time I’d simply sat in a park for the pure pleasure in doing so. So it was nice to be able to do so and accomplish something at the same time! Theresa suggested I bring along an RPM dog to be in some of the photographs, so that way we could have photos for the books and for RPM, and then the magazine could decide which they’d want to use for the article. Immediately, I thought Stouffer! Not Stouffers, though I love their mac and cheese. But Stouffer, who’s a dog in RPM’s adoption program and has had a few trial runs in potential homes, but has come back after every one because of his high energy level. He’s a gorgeous dog, though, and incredibly sweet and special. He’s one of those dogs who needs someone willing to put in the work to understand and train him. But I thought he’d be perfect to feature in OutSmart, and maybe it would help him get adopted. Stouffer’s foster dad met us in the park on the appointed day, and we had a good time at the photoshoot. Well, I did. It seemed as though everyone else did. And Stouffer tried to track and kill a squirrel, so it seemed like he had a good time. (Although, I heard he did puke afterward during the ride home, like a supermodel.) Becky blogged about the photoshoot here.

Stouffer and I made the magazine cover. There had been talk that might be the case. It was a pleasant surprise! You can read the article here: Redefining Romance: Authors Becky Cochrane and Timothy Lambert release two new collections of gay literature just in time for Valentine’s Day. There’s also an excerpt from my short story in Foolish Hearts. And this is the cover:
outsmart

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just a note

Just a note to say that I made a short film about RPM’s transport day for people who can’t be there, and to give a visual about part of what we do. Here is the video.

And here is the blog post I wrote to go with it on RPM’s website: An RPM Video.

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state of the pollock

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Pollock is growing rapidly. He’s finally figured out his feet and doesn’t stumble or fall over quite so much. He’s very jumpy and loves to launch himself off of a chair or the front steps when he suddenly decides he needs to be somewhere else. We’re thinking a new fence for The Compound might be in order soon, just in case he decides one day it’s a hurdle in his way, instead of a barrier to keep him in and others out.

His last checkup at Winrock Animal Clinic went well and he’s finally had all of his booster shots. Which means I can take him to Hanley Inc to play with his sister, Whatshername. (Her name seems to be Ruby, but Hanley sometimes renames her every now and then, so I can never be sure.) Whenever I take him over to Becky’s house, he always jumps on Margot and Guinness, which they don’t enjoy. For some reason he thinks it’s fun when Margot snarls and tries to bite him. She never bites him, because she’s just saying, “Back off, you little shit,” but he goads her on, because it’s attention, which is what he wants. Pollock’s favorite thing to do is wake Guinness up from a deep sleep, which means she has to bark her fool head off at him, and rouse her from whatever bed she was in, all so he can sit in it for two minutes until his attention is diverted by something else. Needless to say, Margot and Guinness aren’t Pollock’s biggest fans. His sister, Whatshername, however, really liked it when I housesat there this weekend and brought him with me. She was relentless about wanting to play with him, always on the go and demanding his attention. Pollock tried to chill out on the sofa with me while I was watching a movie and she kept jumping up in his face, trying to bite his ear. He looked up at me as if to say, “Can you believe this bitch?” Then he stood up and peed on the sofa next to me.

Dr. Banks told me that you can estimate how big your puppy will be when they’re full grown by doubling their weight when they’re four months old. At his last checkup Pollock weighed 20.7 pounds and he was about three months old. The visit before that one he weighed 15 pounds, so we’re estimating he’ll be about fifty pounds when he’s an adult. I’m hoping by then he’ll stop peeing inside.

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keep on moving

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Saw an opossum in a bush. He was all, “There’s nothing to see here. That’s it. Show’s over. Keep moving. Keep moving!” But I took his picture anyway.

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trash

One of my favorite ways to volunteer for RPM is to remove dogs from BARC and take them to boarding or, as I did today, to Winrock Animal Clinic for vet care. If you’re a member of a rescue organization and you’re removing dogs from BARC you have to go through the “back door” and check in at the security gate. Today when I lowered my car window to hand over my ID, the security guard said, “You just missed it.”

“What?”

“A big old dump truck pulled up and nearly hit my gate. This guy got out and was yelling, ‘You’ve got to help me!’ He was dumping trash and was halfway through it when he realized there was a dog in there.”

“In the back of the truck?”

“Yes! I let him in and the guys inside suited up in their gear and got the dog out of there. She was scared.”

“No doubt,” I said.

“But I think she’s a nice dog. They’re checking her out now and I bet she’ll be okay.”

“You know they’re so full they can’t take dogs in anymore. I bet that guy put her in there himself and faked the whole thing, just to get her in here.”

“Oh, stop! Go on. You ain’t funny,” the security woman said. But she was laughing.

Dogs aren’t trash, people!

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what’s going on?

The dreaded blank page. As with my fiction writing (Fictional writing career?), I come to my blog every so often only to sit in front of a blank page and think, “Who give a shit?” Then I go to Netflix and watch every episode of a cancelled television show. However, today I’m forcing myself to type something–anything–to get back in the habit of writing. I don’t care if nobody else gives a shit about my writing or what’s going on in my life, because I do and that’s what matters.

DSC_0016Something really awful happened a while ago. Lloyd is no longer at Hanley Inc. and that made me very sad. Still does. He got to stay with me for a week before his last day with us, which was a mixed blessing. It was wonderful to spend so much time with him and let him know how much I’ve loved being a part of his life since I started working at Hanley Inc. over four years ago. But it was also hard to let him go once my time with him was up. Makes me cry again now just thinking about him. But it does make me smile to think about how Hanley’s parents told her that Lloyd went to live on a farm where he has lots of room to play, run, and be free. The proverbial farm lives on. I hope Rex is there with him.

carI have a car! That’s pretty exciting. Can you believe I’m 41 (Oh geez. I typed it out loud.) and I’ve never owned a car until now? I lived in New York City for so long, and you don’t need a car at all there, and when I moved to Houston I borrowed my friends’ cars under the pretense of being kind to the environment and keeping my carbon footprint down to sandal size. In reality I was poor and couldn’t afford a car. But lately all I ever do is drive from one part of the city to the next. Or, I’m at somebody else’s house in another part of the city taking care of their dogs and home, which means Becky’s car was never home for her to use. (Since 9 times out of 10 it was her car I used.) So, after months of research to figure out which car would be right for me, I bought a Ford C-Max. I love my car. Not only is it practical, but it’s fun to drive. Driving economically becomes a game. Will I get 38 mpg or 43 mpg? Fun! It’s great for driving Hanley around, delivering dogs, and everything else I have to do on a daily basis. More than that, it’s just great to be able to get into my car and go wherever the heck I want at any time. Also, I love saying, “My car.”

I took MY CAR on a road trip shortly after I got it. My grandmother’s birthday is in December, but she turns 100 this year, so the town of Knapp, Wisconsin, wanted to celebrate this milestone and throw her a birthday party. Since her actual birthday is very close to Christmas they decided celebrating in October would be best, because more people and gramfamily would be able to attend and it wouldn’t be so cold. I didn’t hear about it until a couple weeks before the event, but I really wanted to go. I don’t get the opportunity to visit family very often, and this seemed like a great reason to make it happen. Plus, I’d just obtained one of the most economical cars on the road, so it seemed like fate was saying, “Dude, ROAD TRIP!” Hanley approved my vacation, so I away I went. Nobody in my family–except my aunt, Ann, because she told me about the event on Facebook–knew I was coming, so it was a lot of fun to show up and surprise everyone. Especially my grandmother, who was shocked and thrilled to see me. I don’t get a lot of opportunity to get to Wisconsin, so I’m glad I made the effort to go. Especially since a lot of relatives I haven’t seen in many years showed up. It was hard to leave. On the way up, I spent the night in a really skanky hotel that was like living inside of an ashtray in a basement rec room on a wet day in 1978. So on the way back to Houston I made up for it by treating myself to a night in a Hilton. It was wonderful. I wish I could’ve stolen the bed.

At the end of September I was asked to join the board of a new rescue organization in Houston called Rescued Pets Movement. Rather than try to find local homes for dogs and cats, Rescued Pets Movement (RPM) will reduce the euthanasia rate of Houston’s shelters and number of homeless pets on the streets (recently estimated to be 1.2 to 1.4 million dogs and cats) by removing dogs and cats from the Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care (BARC), our city’s pound, and transporting them to shelters and rescue organizations outside of the Greater Houston area where adoptable pets are needed. It’s hard to imagine that there are some places in the country in need of pets to adopt out to their community, but there are places like out there, and RPM is finding them. Currently, we’re working with organizations between Colorado Springs and the Denver metro area in Colorado. Since we formed two months ago, RPM has moved over 300 dogs and cats out of BARC, most of whom were scheduled to be put to sleep. I feel like I’ve helped create something special and am a part of something very important. More than that, I feel like we’re making a difference, which is a wonderful feeling. Not only are we changing something for the better here in Houston, but we’re improving the lives of the people who can now receive these precious dogs and cats and give them homes in far off places. It’s a lot of hard work to make it happen, but when you think about it in those terms, and when you see all the people who foster our dogs and cats come together on a transport day to send them off to be adopted elsewhere, it’s definitely worth it.

DSC_0015I know my life certainly improved because of RPM and the pets we save. Pollock was one of seven puppies at BARC who were about to be put to sleep. Unfortunately, his litter mates all came down with parvo, a disease often deadly to unvaccinated puppies. Pollock, luckily, never showed symptoms of the disease and lived, which is ironic since he was the runt of the litter. After I agreed to be a board member for RPM I thought I should step up to the plate and foster Pollock. I failed. I had to keep him. The best part is that Hanley’s mom–who is also on the board of RPM–adopted Pollock’s sister, Ruby, who was treated for parvo and lived. It makes me glad to know these two puppies defeated the odds, lived, got out of BARC and get to play with each other as soon as they’ve had all their booster shots. Next Monday! Pollock is an absolute delight and makes me laugh every day. I’m so glad he’s a part of my life now, and I’m so grateful to BARC that I have him.

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tuesdays with pixie

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If only Pixie could relax.

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tuesdays with pixie

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I’m out of the above picture’s frame on Pixie’s right, reading a book. It’s not often that I lay on the sectional and read, so Pixie is thrilled she can nap next to me while I do so. I may join her.

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tuesdays with pixie

Pixie wants to stay in bed a little while longer, and I’m inclined to agree. What a smart dog.

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reach the beach

Sometime in 2011 spending the day in Galveston and the night in a hotel on the beach became my favorite way to put my life on pause and recharge my psyche. Lately I’ve been feeling extremely tense and tired, and it occurred to me that it had been a while since I’d given myself time off for myself. Hanley, editing, taking care of dogs and houses, day after day, night after night. It was getting to be too much. So I marked a weekend–last weekend–in my calendar as Tim’s Weekend in Galveston. Unfortunately, it had been so long since I’d had one of my getaways that I’d forgotten I usually scheduled them on a weekday. During the week you can find a hotel room on the beach for a reasonable rate. During the weekend they wanted up to three times as much. I couldn’t allow myself to unload as much money as I spend on a weekend in New Orleans last month for one night in Galveston.

Frustrated, I checked my calendar for the next time I had a free weekday. I found one, but it was in August. That wouldn’t do much for my psyche in the here and now. Becky suggested I check in to a hotel in Houston with a good pool and a decent gym and get away from it all closer to home. I entertained the idea, and even found such a hotel with a good rate, but eventually nixed it. The whole point was to be as close to the ocean as possible. The Gulf isn’t an ocean (as Cousin Ron is wont to remind us), but it’s as close as I can get and fills in quite nicely for all intents and purposes. Being from midcoast Maine, I like being near the water. It calms me. Which is odd since I’m an air sign.

Tim’s Weekend in Galveston quickly turned into Tim’s Day in Galveston. I finally decided it would be better to hang out on the beach for the day, drive around and take photographs, and maybe take myself out to dinner somewhere nice than do nothing at all. Unfortunately, on Saturday, the day I decided to go, I woke up late. It was one of those days where I was tired and found it nearly impossible to get motivated. Plus, whatever I’m allergic to–Ragweed, in childhood; I think it’s making a comeback–was out in full force, because my chest hurt, my eyes were burning and I was coughing a lot. I nearly talked myself out of going, but then I took the dogs outside. It was a nice day. Who knew what tomorrow would bring? Rain, most likely, and then I’d have to wait until August, and there was no way in hell I was going to wait that long to take care of myself. It was then or nothing. Which seemed extreme, but for some reason I felt nothing but urgency.

Which, of course, meant that traffic going outbound was going nowhere fast when I finally got on the road. Every lane was packed with cars driven by morons and every road I took seemed to be under construction. When I finally reached the beach I was relieved. The sand burned my feet, but I didn’t care. I found a spot, spread out my towel, removed my shirt and inhaled the salty air. I could breathe again! There was little clarity in my head, though, because my mind started working, as I thought about why I had to be where I was, and I realized I hadn’t been to Galveston in a year. The last time I’d made that journey was the day that Rex died. It was kind of a relief to finally understand why I’d been so frazzled lately.

I had a good day at the beach. I read a book. I relaxed. I took pictures with a new camera lens. I watched the sun set. I talked to Rex and told him everybody is okay, and everybody still loves him. Psyche sated, I went home.

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