Tuesday, February 20, 2018

R.I.P. Samuel L. Hound-Dog (2004? - 2018)

After the past month or so of being unable to deny that he was old and in pain, we made the decision to end Sammy’s suffering this past Friday.  He could no longer enjoy his greatest loves of going for walks, playing with his giant sex-toy-looking toy, and performing the Happy Wiggle Butt dance.  The morning of the appointment, when it hurt him too much for me to even lift him and he cried out, I knew the timing was right and we had made the right decision.   

I’ve never had a dog like Sammy before, and I have had many.  He was a brawny, muscle-y dog, feared by some because of how he looked.  And though he could be obstinate at times and loved to challenge my status as the Alpha, he never once showed the slightest hint of aggression toward any person, big or small.  His sense of duty in protecting us, especially our kids, was fierce.  I could not walk him to pick up the kids from school, because any other dog near them was seen as a threat and he would make a scene.  He was not welcome at the dog kennel anymore because when I took him there, the other dogs became a threat and he had to be isolated.  We had to get in-home dog sitters every time we went out of town.  His sense of intuition and protectiveness caused him a good deal of anxiety.  
 I remember taking him and the boys down to the creek one day when the boys were little.  There were some vagrant druggie types hanging around down there, telling loud stories, dropping F-bombs while the kids played barefoot in the creek.  I thought poor Sammy was going to lose his mind.  He cried and howled, looking in the direction of those guys, looking at the kids, then looking at me like I was insane.  How could I let my children be around those noisy people with the weird body language? He seemed to be pleading with me.  He was not calm until we got out of there.  That was Sammy.

He was a pain in the ass in lots of ways, but especially because of his breed.  When we first moved to SLO and had to rent a place, we were denied several of our choice of pet-friendly places simply because they would not allow a dog who looked like him.
He was macho and believed it was his right to lift his leg on whatever he wanted — houseplants, Christmas trees, hubcaps.  I’m a good dog trainer, but could never train that out of him.  He was terrified of the wind and of fireworks, and would pant and pace the house all night every July 4th and during windstorms.  But for every night I lost sleep because of him, there were thousands of nights I slept like a baby knowing he was on watch.

 At times I was looking to find another home for him.  When you have small children and other pets and obligations clamoring for your attention every minute of every day, you don’t have much left over for an anxiety-ridden pet.  At times I just couldn’t take it; I didn’t want to resent any pet in my home.  There are no-kill shelters in the area that would take him and find him a good home, but I could never bring myself to do it.  He was found on a freeway on-ramp for God’s sake.  Escaped from people who feared him and kept him tied to a stake in their yard 24/7, a pack of hot dogs thrown at him so he wouldn’t starve.  He was meant to be with us, to eat real food and be sheltered inside at night, to have a job he was good at.  As much as I felt inconvenienced by him at times, I couldn’t bear the thought of anyone else having him.  Other dogs were compelled to attack him, even tiny little dogs would burst out of their yards and come after Sammy, who was always on his leash.  What if he was attacked and I wasn’t there to protect HIM?  I couldn’t allow that.  His golden years would be spent with us.  

 As it turns out, it was more like his golden weeks.  The decline happened that fast.  And when the end came, I cried so much harder and longer than I thought I would.  I realized while it was happening that I was also grieving for the kids who were killed just hours before in Florida in yet another senseless and preventable horror show.  And crying for their parents who would never hold their children again, whose broken hearts would never heal.  Who never got the chance to say goodbye.  

When the life silently left his body, his beautiful tawny fur was still as shiny and soft as ever, his muscle tone still sturdy.  He simply looked like he was sleeping.  And I was able to say goodbye and let him go.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Burn The Bully

I recently read an article in Vanity Fair about the differences between Millenials and Generation X, wherein it was stated that Gen-Xers were the last to have the old-time childhood, where “you were assigned a bully along with a homeroom teacher.”  A quaint sentiment, though I rather think this kind of bully has become outdated and gone the way of the VHS.  Bullies come in all shapes and sizes but the bully’s main credo is to torment and terrorize the different. 

A bully is defined in the dictionary as an “aggressive person.”  But what about the passive-aggressive bully?  The family member, co-worker or friend who masquerades as the one on your side, but undercuts and mocks you when you are just spreading your wings.  You might not even be around to see or hear their vitriol directed at you, but you know it’s there, just as you know you’re coming down with a cold or there’s a towel mildewing in the washer. 

There’s the proactive bully who talks over you in a meeting and there’s the cowardly bully “friend” who stops talking to you when things are going well in your life.  Either way the effect is the same: It is meant to control and punish.  Someone who is seen as doing their own thing will be pounced on. Making positive changes in your life?  This will be frowned on by those who don’t wish for your happiness.  This will be mocked and pounced on by your bully.  Sometimes recognizing and weeding out the bullies in your life can take years.

Perhaps the bully was bullied themselves and, rather than seek to resolve those issues within themselves, turn to shaming or intimidating others.  Perhaps they have unresolved creative longings they are too afraid to express, and so turn to bringing down those who do.  Perhaps they are just an asshole.  Either way, it is not for us to try to get inside the bully’s head.  That would take energy away from our creative exploits and our life journey.  The bully has his own path to walk.

For the writer, all this oppressive jerking around, whether it’s outright harassment or quietly manipulative, can have disastrous effects.  The writer MUST protect herself and her fellow artists from being pulled into the bully’s mind-f*ck.  And for this we have a ceremony this year at the Central Coast Writer’s Conference:  BURN THE BULLY.  Free to the public.  Inspired by conference presenter Jay Asher, author of Thirteen Reasons Why.  You don’t have to attend the conference to attend this healing event (though I highly recommend you do).

Come on down and burn your personal bully, and get back to kicking ass.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The New Girls

So we got chickens.

My ass is turning so country.  After months and months of wearing Derek down and begging him to please for the love of GOD with two boys and three boy dogs let me have some girls up in this household, he relented.  He even offered to build the coop, but we instead bought one of those smaller pre-made ones off Amazon.  We set it all up and I answered a craigslist ad from a woman selling young Buff Orpingtons that had just begun laying. 

Our flock consists of Fluffy (named by the boys); Chrissy (of Three’s Company fame, the dimmest bulb of the bunch); and Jasmine (who, on her first day here was chased across the entire length of the backyard by our dog Sammy and wedged herself halfway up the interior of our jasmine bush and stayed there, wedged inside the vines).

I’m not really a bird person.  I love my bird feeder and watching the little birdies in my yard take a bath in the bird bath and all.  I love the pair of doves who are always hanging around.  But it wasn’t until I got the chickens home that I realized I was a little scared of them and they were way more scared of me.  Their body language and ways and sounds are foreign to me.  Give me a scared, anxious, untrained pit bull and I know exactly what to do.  But these feathery, pecky, skittish things?  Clueless.  It has been a gradual process of getting to know one another.  But here is what I’ve picked up so far.

1.  Chickens Can Be Bitches, Man. The pecking order of these three has been established already, and it consists of Jasmine at the top and all others beneath her. This, in spite of the fact that she was traumatized on her first day by a scary dog and is the smallest of the three. Here's Jasmine, and she's a Total Bitch:

She gets first dibs on all the food, and if one of the others gets too close while she eats, or dares to eat something she thinks looks good, she will peck them. Hard! On the head! This morning I watched her chase Fluffy up to the roost and back to the run over and over for several minutes before Fluffy finally lay down in front of Jasmine while Jasmine pecked her mercilessly on the head about twenty times. It was like a beat-down. A chicken beat-down. I thought about intervening, worrying that she might peck out poor Fluffy’s eyes or something, but eventually she stopped, let Fluffy back up and Jasmine strutted away, as if to say “That’s right, bitch. You know what you did. You better watch yourself.” And that was that.

2.  They Are Feathery Garbage Disposals. I already knew about the kitchen scraps and it’s true, they eat all those little ends and bits and leftovers and produce about to spoil, etc. But I didn’t know what absolute whores they would be for weeds until I pulled a bunch of dandelions that had sprouted up after all the rain. I dumped a big armful of tall, scraggly monster-weeds into the run and it was like Christmas. They went crazy. By the time I came out two hours later, all the weeds were gone without a trace. I was astounded. How can any creature find weeds to be that delicious? Finally, a good use for weeds!

3.  Their Eggs Kick ASS Over Anything I've Ever Bought At the Store. Actually I already knew this from buying eggs from the farmers’ market guy. And though it’s winter when they're not supposed to lay, there have been a few eggs a week, and two in one day yesterday.

And now I actually get to control everything that’s going into those eggs. It’s a great feeling. Because, you know, you are what you eat, ate. The shells are hard and sturdy. The yolks are neon orange. The taste is sublime. I don’t think I can go back to store-bought eggs ever again.

4.  They Are Addictive. I’m already making plans to get some chicks in the spring so I can raise them myself. I want them to be more tame and comfortable around people, and these girls were raised out in the middle of nowhere and were apparently chased by people. They’ve had to get used to the sounds of kids, cars, sirens, airplanes overhead, the train a few blocks down, the noise of the guy re-doing his driveway next door, etc. They were not held by human hands and nurtured as babies, and I want to have that experience and share it with the kids. It’s taking a lot of patience, getting these girls to understand that I am their friend, but they are slowly coming around. I think they know on some level that I love them. I talk to them like they’re babies. I give them grapes. I sing to them a song I used to sing to my pug Babe when she was little, and it’s kind of perfect for them. “Girl… you’ll be a woman soon….”

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

The Dark, Dark Day Hillary Lost

I woke up to the news and thought for sure I must still be asleep and having a nightmare, though I did toss and itch quite a bit last night, a sense of dread sabotaging my sleep. 

I want to cry but the tears won’t come.  They are locked up in my throat somewhere, too horrified and confused to come out.

I feel so disappointed.  So disheartened by my own countrymen, but especially by my countryWOMEN who voted for this person who so clearly has such contempt for our very gender unless we are worthy of him to grab us by the pussy.  Not to say that as a woman, you elect a woman just because she has a vagina, that is so NOT the point.  But you certainly don’t instead choose a man who believes you are a second-class citizen, along with people of color, gays and lesbians, transgenders, Muslims, basically anyone who is not a white Protestant male.  But women, we are supposed to be looking out for each other, especially since it is usually the white Protestant male that ends up screwing us.  What the hell happened?

I’m so disappointed with the people who claim to love Jesus that voted for this man.  Jesus loved everybody regardless of their background or religion or race and commanded us to do the same.  Jesus did not advocate violence against his enemies or “building a wall” or making the rich richer while those without privilege and opportunity remain oppressed and hungry.  Jesus taught us, above all else, to love.  I see and feel and hear nothing but vile, pompous hatred coming off that man.

And while Hillary also is flawed and made some not-so-great decisions (let he who has not done the same cast the first stone; she is human, after all) – at least she had some qualifications.  At least she has actually BEEN in the trenches and had some experience and has a working, thinking brain.  If this had been a regular job interview, and not what amounted to a sick, fear-mongering high school popularity contest, the choice would have been laughably clear.  But apparently that’s not the country we live in anymore.  People actually think a reality show ass-clown can lead us.

I want to crawl back into bed and not come out.  I don’t see any positives in this, and that is not like me.  It’s hard to have hope, but somehow we must.  Everyone thought he would hang himself during the campaign; perhaps he’ll do it while in office.  Especially if there is a worthy intern with a vagina within his reach.  

They impeach presidents for that, don’t they?

Monday, July 11, 2016

Sad Mama

I can’t shake the sadness today.  It feels like the world has gone crazy.

There is a line George Clooney says toward the beginning of the movie The Descendants.  Something about how just because they live in their Hawaiian paradise doesn’t make them immune to tragedy.  There is still cancer, bad things still happen.  That’s how I feel about living in the Happiest City in America today.  We are not immune here. 

A week ago, my Trader Joe’s was robbed at gunpoint.  This spineless asshole might as well have held a gun to my best friend and demanded money.  I shop there every week.  I actually enjoy the process of procuring nourishment for my family there because it is such a positive place.  If I walk in feeling a little tired or blue, I always walk out with a smile and a better outlook on my day.  Even if I've never met the cashier before, he or she is like a buddy.  I feel safe there.

And some shithead came in with his shithead gun like such a BIG MAN and made the world a much scarier and meaner place for the person he robbed and the people who work there.  To date he is still at large.  I feel outrage.  I feel helpless.  I want to kick the crap out of the person who did this and then punch him in the neck.  Is this my higher self talking?  Probably not, but it’s how I feel.  How dare he violate MY Trader Joe’s?

Then the punch to the gut yesterday that sent me to bed for the rest of the day.  A little three-year-old girl drowned in the Elks pool on Friday while there for a birthday party.  Same pool the boys and I  have frequented countless times with friends to cool off, socialize, play on the swingset, etc.  That pool was my entrĂ©e into San Luis Obispo life and embracing culture when we first moved here three years ago.  Like a symbol of camaraderie and childhood joy.  And then some poor parent I have probably rubbed elbows with in the Trader Joe's frozen food aisle had to leave that party without their baby.  Their life will never be the same.  A huge void has been created that can never be filled.

Meanwhile, throughout other parts of the country, people are reeling from the aftershock of racially-motivated shootings and violence.  What is going on?  Why is it so hard for us to love each other?  Why are people still fighting for the right to be able to go out and kill other people?  Aren’t we past this yet?

Meanwhile, McLean has lost his two front teeth.  Minecraft is being played at obsessive levels.  Blues games are going on down the street.  Life is going on.  But still my sadness for my fellow man remains.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


I was really hoping it was just a hoax.  Now it appears to be real.  How can you be gone?  Do you have any idea what your music did to me?  How much it moved me?

I have the most vivid memory, a collection of them actually, of my 14 to 17-year-old self, night after night, lying in bed in the dark listening to the Purple Rain soundtrack.  It was our time alone together.  I never met you, but you were speaking to me alone.  There was The Beautiful Ones, my favorite, which simultaneously made me weep and turned me on.  Purple Rain and When Doves Cry.  Physically, you did things to my body without ever having touched me.  How on earth did you do that?  How did you incite such intense, frenzied feelings of lust and loss, things I was too young to have experienced yet?  Your shrieks and screams were like a wild animal, but at the same time, gave voice to the human experience.   As an artist, you were the real deal.  Everything about you was androgynous and strange, yet still aggressively masculine.  You didn’t need a loud voice or even size to convey your power.  It emanated in tsunami waves.  I can’t believe how much I miss you already.