Cooper sleeps. He wants back in the bedroom but I won't let him.

It's a strange schedule this week, my regular day off a day on, so this turns into a writing night when otherwise it isn't one. And I have nothing. I'm spent.

Four years ago I was just getting settled into a job in a city that as a kid I said I'd never live in, feeling the clutches of stasis, driving half an hour to work and then sometimes forty-five minutes back to the other side of the city to write in the only spot I found adequate, a cafe with pour-your-own-coffee and good wraps. I bolted for grad school.

Now, I'm in a similar job with similar, variable hours in a different city which I've found much more tolerable than my childhood self would have expected, but still a city, mid-sized in the midwest. The pay is better. I've never made close to this much per year, but those grad school years of living on credit now all but ensure that as long as I hover around this tax bracket I'll be essentially treading water. Holding still.

I'm watching some anime, Fullmetal: Brotherhood, which has heroes and villains and the heroes are unassailably pure which can be annoying but the villains tend to have more complexity to them, which makes them interesting, except they still talk like villains, they lay down cliched lines of bravado and venom and that's what I want. I want evil. Evil is easy. There are no real decisions to make, no nuance. Evil would provide clarity.

I want clarity.

In New Orleans a former Ohio State football player was shot and killed and his wife also shot twice in the leg, by a former less-than-pro football player driving a Hummer H2. I know, or I've decided to believe anyway, that killing is evil, and Hummers are evil, that one's even more cut and dry, but the first two stories I saw about the murderer were from interviews from former acquaintances, one saying 'I always knew something wasn't right with that guy' and the other 'I can't even believe it, he never showed signs of aggression, not once.' 

My animals, they live simply, they count their motivations one by one. I want to go here, I want to go out there, I want to eat, I want to sleep. All their focus. All their desire, pointed in a single direction. This is good. This is bad. Contemplation is for the birds. Except it isn't, birds are stupid.

My niece and nephew got invited to the fantasy baseball draft this weekend, for which I was also coming to town, having been invited to play another year despite my only real reason for participation in the first place not being around anymore. But they've renamed the league after him, and the commissioner asked me specifically to play again, so I said sure. Easy decision, really. Then Ben's kids were invited to draw the draft order out of the hat, so they accepted, or their mom did, and came along too.

Not being one for cash, I forgot to pick some up before the draft to pay the league dues and ran out to an ATM while the stragglers were showing up. When I got back, my nephew was drawing out names of teams already, but I guess fortunately (?) I was drawn out of the hat last, so I didn't miss my placement in the rotation. My family and fiancee ate pizza and visited with each other a while and then left while the draft was going on. We didn't break for fourteen rounds, almost four hours later. Only then did the commish visit my table and told me that my niece had actually picked the first team name out of the hat, which I'd missed seeing, and she had drawn her dad's old team. He said he almost broke down into tears, honest to god.

She didn't want to pick anymore after that.

How much can a nine-year-old deal with, really. You get used to the hectic, non-stop, unpredictable life, fighting for every scrap of attention you can get, and then suddenly the world slows down and the spotlight's on you and you realize it's what you've been begging for, all this time, not realizing what it would take to get it.

I hurried back to my folks' place after the draft and my nephew had been waiting on me, wanting to play catch. We got that chance. Threw the ball back and forth for half an hour or so. It was simple. It was good.

Now I've got this novel going with all these complex characters and it's exhausting to think about completing it, really it is. Busy as I feel now, if I do find a way out of the forty-hour work week and really dig in, it will only get tougher. Because this, this is the writing that comes out when I'm spent, this is more relaxing than anything else, writing here. This is decompression. It's all I can do to flavor it with just enough self-discovery to keep me going for a thousand words or so, but ultimately this is a vacation.

After this book I'm writing fairy tales, or romance, or fantasy, or horror. There will be good, there will be evil, nice and pure, a real vacation. Swear to god.

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