Saying Goodbye To An Old Friend

We put our dog to sleep today.

This is my eulogy to a shepherd/retriever mix named Mahogany (so named for practically no reason at all, since she wasn’t mahogany colored—we literally couldn’t think of a name for her and this was the first one that was suggested by my sister after a marathon naming session that didn’t make any of us retch). She was getting on in years, had lost much of her hearing and was the second dog in a row that we owned that had Cushing’s Syndrome. But she was in our lives since I was fifteen, which is about half of my life, and she meant a lot to me.

When she was younger, she was a terror. We got her at about eight weeks, the day after Christmas of 1994, and she was adorable and fuzzy and couldn’t go the whole night without having to go out and pee. Somebody had to sleep with her in the back room of our house so that we could take her outside when she needed to. She was terribly submissive, and had a knack for peeing all over the floor when somebody new came into the house. And if somebody showed up in our driveway, she would go crazy, but not because she wanted to hurt them. It was more of a “OMIGOD THERE ARE PEOPLE THIS IS GREAT I LOVE NEW PEOPLE I WONDER IF THEY WILL PLAY WITH ME” kind of thing. Funny that nobody else but us saw it that way, though.

Since then, she was kind of a fixture in my life. I’d come back to my parents’ house for a weekend and she’d be there at the door, as excited to see me as if I had simply gone away for the day and was getting home.

Even as she got older—and her age really started to show—she would still have puppy moments. Though the fur under her chin started turning gray at the young age of two or three, she still loved to go outside and run like there was no tomorrow. And she loved playing in the snow, right up until the end. Somehow, she never really grasped the concept of how large she was. It was always funny to see a sixty-five pound dog try to climb into somebody’s lap while they sat in a recliner. And God save you if she ever climbed on a bed while you were laying on it: your face was inevitably doomed to a quite literal tongue-lashing from the dog, which would only let up once you had capitulated that she was, indeed, the winner.

My mother told me earlier this week that she was going to be put down. I’m thankful that my job affords me the ability to work from any location, because I decided quite fast that I would drive up so I could see her again and say goodbye. And this morning, at nine o’clock, we made the trip to the vet’s to put her to rest.

The entire process took only about two minutes. It’s not the first time I’d seen a family member die—no, this was in fact the third time I’d had the privilege. The vet pushed what seemed to be an absurd amount of anesthetic through a syringe, and quite soon, the pup’s breathing slowed and stopped.

She died with her eyes open. I had thought she would drift off to sleep, but I guess it happened too quickly for even that.

In a way, getting to say goodbye to my dog makes me feel a little better about not being able to say goodbye to my grandmother. The frustration of having one family member pass on so fast is tempered a little bit by the ability to show the other one how much I loved them both. It’s a small consolation, but it is one, at least.

My parents say they probably won’t get another dog for a while. The last time we had to put a dog down, it was about six months before we all decided it was time. Now that there isn’t a whole house full of kids to help take care of it, I wonder if it might not be a little while longer, if at all, before they get another. But this family has always had a dog in it, and I can’t imagine it without one in the house to help keep the cats company.

I just hope that if they do get a new one, it’s not something small. I wouldn’t want to accidentally step on it.


October 23, 1994 — February 20, 2009

You were loved and you will be missed by all—even by those who thought you were trying to eat them.


You might notice that the site has received somewhat of a facelift. Actually, a facelift is rather minor. This is more like the Six Million Dollar Man. You know: better, stronger, faster.

I had grown really weary of the old site design, but there was a certain element of pride involved with the fact that I had designed it myself, from the ground up, not to mention that there were some custom things I had done with it that had even prevented me from upgrading WordPress for fear that I might break something on the site. Not that there weren’t already things wrong with the site—the image galleries never quite seemed to work right, for example—but the concept of redoing it all, from scratch, was so daunting as to be completely paralyzing.

I had been trying to come up with a way to incorporate this particular look (a color-shifted variant of the Fusion theme that I was quite fond of) into the site, and using it to help come up with a site design that better fit my current interests. I wanted something that would allow me to incorporate all of the photography I’ve been doing lately, without losing the function and form of the pages I’d already incorporated into the site.

I dunno. I guess tonight was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I decided that come hell or high water, I was both upgrading the software on the site and changing the theme, and I would worry about fixing the problems that would undoubtedly crop up later. It turns out that I didn’t have anything to worry about. The upgrade wiped out the custom changes I’d made, so I didn’t have to worry about extricating them from the internal code—and thankfully, I have since learned that there are easier ways to customize, and I will definitely be using them should I want to make any changes under the hood from now on—and the theme installed flawlessly without any real effort from me. From there, it was a simple matter of moving the content around and installing or upgrading some plugins I had had running.

And speaking of moving content around, some notes on housekeeping:

  • The pages for my Senior Recital and the Plymouth Mozart’s Requiem performance are still here, but are now listed as menu items under the “Music Related” menu at the top of the screen.
  • The same goes for certain site related content: the Privacy Policy, Contact Form and Email Subscription options page are all available as items in the “Site Related” menu up there. Also, in addition to the archives dropdown menu and category listing on the right, there are links to the archives and categories in that same menu.
  • Those of you—particularly family members—who have been going to my Flickr page to look at photos of the niece can now simply come here. I’ve integrated the blog with Flickr, so all of my photosets and albums are available through the Photo Galleries link above. The integration allows for commenting and posting notes on the pictures without having to go to Flickr. I’m hoping that this will encourage you to participate in addition to just looking.

See? It’s as easy as clicking the photo album cover here. :)

Ultimately, this overhaul is intended to force me to actually use the skills I acquired during all those years of school and write more. But part of the new look is to incorporate my new hobbies—namely, the photography. I took some photos of a friend’s band at a club this past weekend, and after she looked at them today I was almost instantly offered a paid gig doing promotional photos for the band. Not only is this an enormous compliment, it’s affirming in a way, because I’ve gotten so into photography that I was considering starting up a small business with it, and this kind of thing lets me know that it’s a possibility, even if it’s only local and even if it’s only once in a while. It’s nice to know that people think what you do is worthwhile.

So I’m hoping that I’ll contribute more often to the site, and not just in one medium, but in three—image, word, and music. It’s been a while since I put anything new on the site, musically, but I am working at it, if slowly. And the other two are just as lacking.

If you notice anything on the site not acting as you think it should, comment on this post. And keep an eye out for new content. It’ll be coming, I swear it. Just a reminder that you can subscribe via RSS or email. :)

(You might also notice that the name of the blog has changed. Think of it as my take on nirvana, I guess.)

Let me tell you about my Saturday night.

So the following is the text from an instant messaging chat I had with my friend Nick.

[01/25 16:26:48] Nick: what the hell happened last nigh?
[01/25 16:26:50] Nick: night*
[01/25 16:40:42] Andrew: Went up to Nashua to visit a friend from college
[01/25 16:41:10] Andrew: She’s not known for being the most stable of people, but she’s going through some tough times and I figured we could go out dancing and just relax and have fun for a night, she could unwind a bit
[01/25 16:41:59] Andrew: She’d been going through this thing with a guy who is, for lack of a better term, abusive (at least, I believe he is, even if he hasn’t hit her), and she said it was over with him, but I found out when I got there that they were back together
[01/25 16:42:13] Andrew: Something in me just knew that that meant trouble
[01/25 16:42:30] Andrew: And I was right, I guess toward the end of the night she tried to get in touch with him and he wouldn’t respond, and she FLIPPED. OUT.
[01/25 16:43:02] Andrew: She took off without me, so I went looking for her and finally took a cab back to her place
[01/25 16:43:12] Andrew: She was there but wouldn’t let me in
[01/25 16:43:45] Andrew: And finally called the cops on me because I wouldn’t leave (and she was right, because my camera and clothes were in her apartment and I was NOT leaving without my stuff)
[01/25 16:43:48] Andrew: So the cops show up
[01/25 16:44:07] Andrew: Ask me a few questions, determine that I’m completely harmless, and all of a sudden I’ve got three cops on my side
[01/25 16:44:08] Andrew: Heh
[01/25 16:44:31] Andrew: So they’re asking her what the situation is, and she all of a sudden backs down and says I can stay
[01/25 16:46:19] Andrew: So I go upstairs and try to crash on her couch, and all the while she’s screaming her head off and trying to call this guy
[01/25 16:46:34] Andrew: And then she flips out again and starts telling me to leave
[01/25 16:46:44] Andrew: And by this time I’m PISSED, and I just want to sleep and sober up so I can drive home
[01/25 16:47:01] Andrew: So I’ve got my comforter wrapped around me
[01/25 16:48:26] Nick: what a nut
[01/25 16:48:35] Andrew: Hold on
[01/25 16:48:39] Nick: i know
[01/25 17:10:19] Andrew: Sorry, my mom called
[01/25 17:10:29] Nick: np
[01/25 17:10:47] Andrew: So anyway, she flips out again
[01/25 17:10:56] Andrew: Grabs the comforter and pulls me down to the floor
[01/25 17:11:03] Andrew: Then starts KICKING ME IN THE HEAD.
[01/25 17:11:08] Andrew: Telling me to get out
[01/25 17:11:18] Andrew: Then she calls the cops a second time
[01/25 17:11:30] Andrew: And tells them that a “homeless guy” is on her couch and won’t leave
[01/25 17:11:35] Andrew: I was just laughing at this point
[01/25 17:12:12] Andrew: So they show up again and they’re like, “Look, we understand your situation, but for your own safety, you shouldn’t stay here. We’ll call you a cab to take you to a motel”
[01/25 17:12:32] Andrew: I said, “I’m not paying another $60 tonight to crash at a motel.”
[01/25 17:12:51] Andrew: So they offered instead to take me to a Dunkin Donuts so I could chill for a couple hours until I was okay to drive
[01/25 17:12:59] Andrew: But wait, there’s more
[01/25 17:13:08] Andrew: So I finally call another cab to take me back
[01/25 17:13:12] Andrew: This is around 4:00 or so
[01/25 17:13:26] Andrew: She calls me again
[01/25 17:13:48] Andrew: Apparently she’s locked herself out of the apartment now, and called the cops (no idea of the rationality on that one, but when you’re blacked out you do weird shit)
[01/25 17:14:17] Andrew: So I get one of the cops on the phone and he explains the situation to me, and I explained that I was in a cab and was going to be there in a few minutes
[01/25 17:14:34] Andrew: So when I get there, she’s nowhere to be found
[01/25 17:14:51] Andrew: And a cop pulls up to me while I’m outside the place and tells me that she took off down the road and disappeared into a side street
[01/25 17:15:01] Nick: wtf
[01/25 17:15:02] Andrew: So for the next HALF HOUR, I’m driving around looking for her
[01/25 17:15:09] Andrew: Because it’s like 5 degrees
[01/25 17:15:17] Nick: was she in her apt the whole time?
[01/25 17:15:20] Andrew: And all I could imagine was her passed out in a snowbank somewhere
[01/25 17:15:23] Andrew: No
[01/25 17:15:52] Andrew: I called her repeatedly trying to get ahold of her, and after 30 minutes or so, she picks up and is like “I locked myself out, I’m at a friend’s place, relax and stop calling me”
[01/25 17:16:01] Andrew: I wanted to reach through the fucking phone
[01/25 17:16:07] Andrew: And throttle her
[01/25 17:16:28] Andrew: So I told her I was going home
[01/25 17:16:41] Andrew: Then drove two hours home, got here at like 7 or so
[01/25 17:18:01] Nick: i’m guessing you won’t be talking to her for quite a while
[01/25 17:18:23] Andrew: I talked to her this morning because I was too asleep not to pick up the phone, she called around 10:30 to find out where her keys were
[01/25 17:18:27] Andrew: Like I had them or something
[01/25 17:18:49] Andrew: Then she wouldn’t let me tell her what happened
[01/25 17:18:52] Andrew: So I hung up on her
[01/25 17:19:00] Andrew: She called me repeatedly for the next several hours
[01/25 17:19:37] Andrew: Finally left me a VM that said she got into her apartment and found her keys and could I call her to fill her in on what happened, and she can’t apologize enough, etc.
[01/25 17:19:47] Nick: ha
[01/25 17:19:49] Nick: whatever dude
[01/25 17:20:01] Nick: maybe she should lay off the fucking crack
[01/25 17:20:04] Andrew: But yeah, I set a silent ringtone on her
[01/25 17:20:13] Andrew: So when she calls I won’t know
[01/25 17:20:17] Nick: good
[01/25 17:20:20] Andrew: Problem is, she’s got a private cell number
[01/25 17:20:32] Andrew: So unless she unlocks it before she calls, it rings anyway because it just says private
[01/25 17:21:33] Nick: i wouldn’t ever talk to her again
[01/25 17:22:46] Andrew: Yeah, it’s probably gonna be awhile.

Needless to say, it was an eventful evening.


Between the years of 2004-2007, I had ballooned in size up to a ridiculous 272 pounds.

In 2007, I put in a little bit of effort (not even a lot) and lost about 20 pounds.

My New Year’s resolution for 2008 was to lose another twenty. Turns out I didn’t quite hit that—but I did lose about fifteen pounds. I’d say that’s not too bad.

This year? Same thing. I resolve to lose at least twenty pounds by the end of 2009, and keep it off. I know it’s possible, but I’m already working on being healthier, not just less corpulent. Daily workouts on the exercise bike and better, more disciplined eating habits are already helping.

2009 is going to be the year that I focus on being a better me. It’s funny how you can forget to do things like that when you’re so busy focusing on external stuff.


Aaron Sorkin, in writing the first-season finale to The West Wing, gave these words to President Bartlet to say:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident,” they said. “That all men are created equal.”

Strange as it may seem, that was the first time in history that anyone had ever bothered to write that down.

Decisions are made by those who show up.

If you believe in a better world, if you want your voice to be heard, then do not even consider staying home on Tuesday.

I’m not going to say that it doesn’t matter who you vote for—because I believe it does matter—but to quote another character from The West Wing: “No matter who you vote for, make sure you vote.”

Best. Tattoo. Ever.

I only wish I had this kind of creativity. I’ve said before that if I was to get a tattoo it would be something more like this, but behold the one I came across today:

Connect-the-dots giraffe tattoo

(Click the image to be brought to the Flickr gallery for the for the tattoo.)

Thanks to elorg for sending it to me.

A Sad Day

Don LaFontaine has passed away.

If you don’t know who he was, look no further:

As a movie buff who grew up on things like “in a world…” I am saddened by this.

Andrew’s Big Fat Straight Wedding

Sometimes I wonder if I should treat this blog more like, well, a blog. I read so many great articles during the day and I think about sharing them with people, but I never bother linking them on this site.

I have to share this, though: Andrew Sullivan wrote a great article for the Atlantic that attempts to describe how “straight” the concept of gay marriage has become, especially for people of my generation and generations that have come after mine.

My favorite (and rather moving) part:

It happened first when we told our families and friends of our intentions. Suddenly, they had a vocabulary to describe and understand our relationship. I was no longer my partner’s “friend” or “boyfriend”; I was his fiancé. Suddenly, everyone involved themselves in our love. They asked how I had proposed; they inquired when the wedding would be; my straight friends made jokes about marriage that simply included me as one of them. At that first post-engagement Christmas with my in-laws, I felt something shift. They had always been welcoming and supportive. But now I was family. I felt an end—a sudden, fateful end—to an emotional displacement I had experienced since childhood.

and this:

Ours was not, we realized, a different institution, after all, and we were not different kinds of people. In the doing of it, it was the same as my siste’s wedding and we were the same as my sister and brother-in-law. The strange, bewildering emotions of the moment, the cake and reception, the distracted children and weeping mothers, the morning’s butterflies and the night’s drunkenness: this was not a gay marriage; it was a marriage.

I sure as hell hope that if I ever have children or grandchildren, by the time I do they won’t even understand the concept of a difference between straight marriage and gay marriage. We can all hope.

Two new recordings (and a competition)

One of my favorite Broadway composers of the last decade is Jason Robert Brown. I’ve long had dreams of performing in one of his shows, professionally (yeah, right) or even in a local theatre group. In fact, last year I wrote about auditioning for a show (and later about not getting the part). That show was one of his.


Last week, he posted an entry to his blog stating that he had found a few rehearsal recordings he’d made for a production of one of his shows (Songs For A New World, a song from which I sang on my senior recital), and thought that it would be fun to host a little Jason Robert Brown karaoke contest. He posted the recordings of him playing the piano and asked people to record themselves singing the songs.

I decided that this would be a lot of fun.

So here are the two entries that I posted. And here’s the deal: If you listen to these and you like them, then I ask you to send an email (before August 10th, mind you) to, and in the Subject line, put “I Vote For Andrew Coutermarsh”. I don’t hold any delusions that I would win the competition, but it would be nice to be a finalist. It’s hard to tell, with some of the fan clubs that people have online.

The songs:

(If you can’t use the flash player, the title of the song is also a link to the MP3. The flash player is for ease of use.)

She Cries

King of the World

More Fireworks Photos

I attended the fireworks tonight at Sail Fest in New London, this time properly armed with my camera’s tripod and a newly-purchased cable release (well, technically it isn’t a cable release, since it’s a digital camera; I think it would probably be more apropos to call it a wired remote). The problem with having a tripod is that it doesn’t really give you the freedom to move about, nor does it offer you much opportunity to change focus or zoom very readily. I tried, but a lot of these photos came out looking the same, given that they were all framed the same and they were all taken from exactly the same position. Still, I guess that it’s the content that provides the “changes” needed, and some of these really came out well.

Photos taken on a Canon Digital Rebel XT with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens.

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