Monday, August 26, 2013

Acid, Ecstasy and Disneyland

Ask me the first time I let Michael into my heart? 

I can tell you the steps, the baby steps, he made across the line into that first pumping valve. The first memory is taking him to see The Hollywood Stones in winter of 2012. The Hollywood Stones, once called Sticky Fingers, is the Rolling Stones cover band who first introduced me to the music back in 2001 in Pomona. I liked it. When I saw them last year on the Queen Mary, I had familiarized myself with the albums “Sticky Fingers” and “Let It Bleed” just because they ushered me through the door. I schedule my entire month around seeing them. As I once said to their saxophone player outside an Orange County steakhouse, “Hearing ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’ live is just a gift.”


Dancing to the Stones

Once, the mentor, who broke my heart and leveled my self-esteem with her post-semester evaluation, invited me to her house for a reading in her Topanga home. It was the perfect opportunity to touch base with her again and give some credibility to my commitment as a writer. When I saw that The Hollywood Stones were playing the same night, I looked over at Michael. “Should I pretend to struggle over this decision?” I scratched out my old mentor’s event and wrote HOLLYWOOD STONES on my wall calendar. When I dance, when I dance to the music, it becomes my religion. That is when I feel the most alive.

The first night I took Michael to see them I knew that it would be a good indicator of where we would end up. Abe, my ex, would quickly run and hide during my dances. Was it out of fear or embarrassment? I never really figured it out.

Michael was ordering us drinks when the Stones hit their first song on stage. I was walking out of the bathroom and I felt the eyes of the band on me. It was a small venue. I am always the first to dance during the first song. And I am always alone.

I looked over to the bar and waved in Michael’s direction then started dancing. Michael creeped on the dance floor in my winter’s jacket. He was wearing it so I wouldn’t have to lug it around. I stopped to smile at him, as he sauntered on the floor towards me, sliding each sleeve up his forearm. I looked at the lead singer, Dick Swagger, and I watched him smile.

That was one of my favorite moments.

Another was on New Year’s Eve in a gay bar called Akbar. It was free and a last ditch effort during a busy dog walking season. Michael, Trent (my gay boyfriend) and myself all walked in knowing the DJs were usually hit and miss. This night it was Elton John, The Animals, The Monkees, The Black Keys, Jet and even Nancy Sinatra. We had a bag of cocaine on us and Michael was regularly excusing himself to the bathroom to take a few bumps.

“Does he know to take it easy on that stuff?” Trent asked.

“I don’t think he has had that heart stopping, ‘I am dying’, moment yet,” I said.

He never did. When Whitney Houston came on, Michael knew he couldn’t leave the dance floor, so he cleared the stage in front of the DJ and set up lines for himself in front of everyone. I admire that fearlessness. I worry, but I still admire.

la bound

Another favorite moment of us, in this rather young relationship, is coming home from the AWP conference in Boston. It is a conference for writers and publishers. He picked me up from the airport. At the baggage claim, I watched him looking for me. As soon as he saw me, he grabbed my arm with such force it almost hurt. He yanked me in for a hard kiss. A real kiss. The kind you see on TV and convince yourself don’t really exist. I kissed him back, forgetting the department head and president of my school were there waiting for their baggage too. When I opened my eyes, his arm swung up in my face … with flowers.

There was the negative as well. Michael doesn’t understand why I maintain contact with my ex-boyfriends, ex-lovers. I told him, “I don’t know how you can be intimate with someone and not stay in touch. How can you stop caring?”

In fact, Michael was no longer in contact with the girl he was going to move back to Milwaukee for before we started seeing each other. I knew she was upset at him from various angry, bleeping text messages around the holidays. That always bugged me.

‘She blocked me, ok?” he defended.

Other things, as it did with other cohabitating partners, bothered me; eating cereal next to my head as he stood over me to read while I was writing, this tick of pulling and sniffing on his nostrils, and gagging himself with a toothbrush while brushing. The clanking of his spoon against the bowl. (That isn’t specific to him, my roommate Frank is creating the same jarring sound from the living room as I write this) His rearrangement of my garments in the dresser. Little things bothered me, but they never really contended with his undying love and devotion. Whenever you consolidate your life with someone else’s life, there is friction.

It is difficult talking about how I love people. Last year, I was really hurt with many people. My  roommate hung himself and died. My ex-boyfriend broke up with me a few days before agreeing to move in with me and take me to his cousin’s wedding. My parents kicked me out with no money or shelter. All that happens to a broke girl is a kick into survival mode. You still have affection for people, but you don’t invite them into your soul anymore. It is a liability. And, at that point, it would be just plain stupid.

Michael’s mother gave us a timeshare for a Disneyland tower. I stocked up on my favorite drugs; MDMA, acid and Ecstasy. Acid, for some reason, is in low supply in Los Angeles. Luckily, my roommate Frank had two cubes of sugar he was saving in a friend’s freezer.  

We arrived. I was in a pink sock hat, heart pajama bottoms and a Doors shirt with a Hunter S. Thompson biography and a stack of oreo cookies under my arm. I expected the Disney staff to either be over-serving in typical Corporate-Magic fashion or ignore us. Instead, the staff seemed to know exactly why we were there.

HST Flip Off

“That’s a great book,” the Bell Hop said.

“I know. It is blowing me away,” I said.

“They only use the words of people that knew Hunter S. Thompson. It is one of my favorites.”

What a pleasant surprise. They were kind, assuming a lower but friendly tone with us as we were escorted to our hotel room. We got in and watched the afternoon burn off. When we woke up in the middle of the night after beer, Taco Bell and a nap I wanted to take the acid. Michael was reluctant, wanting to wait until we were in the park. The drugs would hit me long and hard. My friends know that drugs hit me in “a weird way.” I don’t know if it is my brain chemistry or what exactly, but I get a bang for my buck no matter what. That is why I always dose low and slow. Even things like cough syrup and tylenol were given to me in minimal and controlled doses as a child.

I dosed and Michael followed soon after. One of my favorite things to do is watch old Looney Tunes episodes on psychedelics. We had the pleasure of an old Sylvester the cat episode. When acid kicks in, you know. The colors start getting strong. So strong they almost leap out of your television set. You laugh so hard you start uncontrollably cackling until tears cool down your face. All of this happened in the course of one hour, but not with Michael.

Sylvester is after the mouse, but somehow the mouse was able to substitute himself for a kangaroo.  Of course, the house bull dog has no sympathy for Sylvester. Scared over a mouse? Get in there and do your job! Sylvester gets the shit kicked out of him, and when the bull dog sees the kangaroo, he grabs Sylvester by the scruff and drops them both on the back of the truck. “When you start seeing a 5-foot mouse, then its time to jump on the water wagon.” Both Sylvester and the dog look defeated as they are carted away.

This was hysterical, and I couldn’t stop laughing. How things happened and in what order I am not sure. I accidentally hit a switch on the wall, and our bed boards lit up with electronic fireworks and a lit Disney castle to the hard, strained chords of a music box orchestra. We were both astonished.

I had to leave for a cigarette and be by myself. I know Michael wasn’t feeling it and was quite disappointed. So I walked outside and smoked next to a few potted trees in a huge,empty, concrete parking lot. It was 4am so no one was there but the night crew.

I looked at a bush next to the ashtray. “You just want to be free to grow, huh? I understand.” Everything seemed so controlled and fake. Sectioned and tarred. I smoked two cigarettes and watched the night time sprinklers go on. I watched the leaves dance for water and touched their pointing tips to feel some life in this endless parking lot. “I am sorry,” I whispered.

I walked back into the hotel and got in the elevator with a Hispanic man from the cleaning crew. My pupils were the size of dimes. “These graveyard shifts will shorten your lifespan, man,” I said. He giggled.
The elevator doors opened to Michael, waving his arms. He was worried about me. After huffing and puffing, he took off down the hallway to our room. “Have a good night,” the night man smiled.
We got back in the room and I laughed off his tantrum. I was only gone for 20 minutes, the acid was expanding his time. “I was really worried about you. Like, where were you, man?” He was adopting my dated vocabulary.

“I was outside. Those plants don’t like it out there.”

He calmed down after 10 or 15 minutes of panting and complaining. We hugged and kissed. When he had to poop, I dragged the chair into the bathroom and sat outside the toilet door because I didn’t want to be alone. It wasn’t just that. Something is vulnerable about a man on the shitter. He kept the door closed but we giggled so hard, I toppled over on the chair as it rocked clumsily between bathroom tiles on the floor.

Suddenly famished, we ordered room service (something we couldn’t afford) and the cart never made it as far as the beds before we fed off the table in the hallway. It was a great first night. He enjoyed a California omelet. I inhaled fresh fruit and oatmeal. “I can understand now how someone like Lindsay Lohan can blow all her money in a hotel.” When we were done, the sun was rising and we decided it was no better time to unleash ourselves into the park. We were allotted early entrance as Disney residents.

It was a special day, we walked into baby ducks marching towards us with trust and confidence. "Is this real?" Michael asked.


I always hit Storybookland first. Mr. Toad and his Wild Ride. Sleeping Beauty. Snow White. Pinocchio. And Peter Pan. Jesus, those rides are like flipping through old library pages in the early 80s. In the 2010s, themes of crystals and the occult are evident. On acid, it is a lift to the curtain. Instead of the characters coming alive, I was more aware of the squeaky wheels under the ride. The flimsy cardboard as each sun-bleached character clumsily stumbled towards us before spinning away. The paint on the wall was of someone with talent but not allowed artistry. On acid, in Disneyland, you would like to believe everything comes alive. It doesn’t. Everything is revealed as it truly is: a farce.It was easier to surrender my imagination sober. Under the influence of psychedelics, all I could see was man instead of imagination.

It wasn’t as if this ruined my time however. We bought cotton candy.

“My parents never let me have cotton candy,” I said, feeling pink sugar dissolve on my tongue and teeth. 

“This is the best thing man ever invented.”

“Whenever you tell me about your childhood, I just feel sad,” Michael said.

Disneyland (2) Disneyland (1)

My mother worked at a dentistry school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I was never allowed to eat a cookie without a glass of milk. To this day, the association of sugar without a cleaning entity leaves me feeling dirty. Cotton candy, sugar cereal and cookies were among the many offenders of bad teeth.

We rode the Merry-Go-Round. We happened across a horse drawn cart. I saw the horse and felt an immediate kinship. “I want to touch that horse.”

“I don’t think you can, baby,” Michael said, holding on to my wrist as if holding down a helium balloon.
“I think it wants me to pet it.”

The horse driver slowly stepped towards us, smiling but cautious. “I don’t think you can, baby.”
I sighed. “I love you,” I called to the horse. It bucked it’s head and vanilla mane towards me like it understood. I stomped away on the cobblestone path to Buffalo Bill’s Wild, Wild West. The Petting Zoo was closed.

Disneyland (4)Disneyland (3) Disneyland (5)
We hit the Pirates of the Caribbean and I watched as the pirate chasing women was now changed to pirates chasing each other while holding a stolen treasure. The “Buy A Wife” still remains, with one woman in a brazen, red dress eager for purchase. A child cried. “It’s ok,” I said, “It just called sex slavery.”

The lecherous pirate chasing a teenage girl (hiding in a barrel) chanting “"It's sore I be to hoist me colors upon the likes of that shy little wench" was changed to "I be looking for a fine pork loin, I be" and (now) a cat peeking its head out of the barrel.

We hit the Haunted Mansion, which was the one time I was not able to carry myself. It was completely dark and the pathway started moving. I asked Michael to hold on to me so I wouldn’t fall. “Are you freaking out?” he asked.

“No, I am just disoriented. Hold on to me, please.”

Afterward, Michael had to smoke, so all the smokers huddled in a corner by Autotopia to suck on cancer sticks. I wasn’t interested. “Are you not feeling it?” I said.

“No. But I have already come to peace with the fact that I can just enjoy you feeling it,” Michael said.
“Well, let’s take the Ecstasy.”

“Now?” he asked.

I gave him his pill 20 minutes before giving in on mine. I was still on the tail coats of acid but there was no denying it was a weak dose. The ecstasy hit him on The Matterhorn. I was sitting behind him in a bumpy bobsled.  A white, hairy creature would sometimes coast out on rickety rails and clinking wheels with his hands raised in claws and his eyes burning red. As we whipped around snow-capped mountains, I watched Michael raise both hands as they gracefully lowered to either side of him, middle fingertip pressed to thumb in some kind of meditation pose. I will never forget that. I knew the ecstasy hit him as soon as he reached zen on the Matterhorn. I chuckled even though he couldn’t hear me on the rattling ride as we swept through, under and over mountains modeled poorly after the Swiss Alps.

When we got off, I turned to him and said, “So, what? Are the people of Switzerland terrorized by a large, white, snow bound monster?”

“I think it is modeled after the Abominable Snowman,” he said with lazy eyes.

We went to Indiana Jones, which is still one of the best rides at Disneyland. We still ducked when feeling the air from blow darts. The rock rolling towards us still felt believable in the second before the ride drops below it.

We took Mark Twain’s Riverboat to Tom Sawyer's Island. We got over there and all we could do was sit in the sunshine and kiss. “Ewwww” a little girl screamed, pointing. We both turned to her and laughed. It was just a lovely afternoon. Ecstasy gives you a bigger lift than Molly (MDMA). You feel like you could fly with laughter, like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory.

Back on the Mainland (Disneyland), there wasn’t much left to do. We made an appearance at Tomorrowland, though Space Mountain was more than I could admittedly deal with. Alice in Wonderland was a much needed stop. The Ecstasy had triggered strong maternal feelings and I was kissing the air within a few feet of stranger’s children. I am not sure I want children, but I can tell you they are amazing human beings.

They wore their pajamas. They ate their lollipops without inhibition, often leaving hard candy raindrops on their face and pants. They smiled when I smiled at them and cried only to their parents. All of them were carted in strollers, which was a bizarre sight. Children, all the way up to 10 years of age, were being carted around in rented strollers ... not for fatigue but for speed and efficiency in the parents’ best interest. 

Stumbling on stroller parking was still one of the most bizarre sights I have seen. It seems we are rapidly approaching the life and times of Wall-E.

Stroller parking

Could children not walk anymore? Or could parents not be bothered with their short stride?
It was mid-afternoon when we took the tram back to our hotel room for lovemaking. Of course, the drugs had stripped me of all disguise and left me much like a little girl abandoned in a grocery store. I cried in the middle of lovemaking, walked to the other side of the suite and returned to Michael. This happened about four or five times in succession. Michael was patient.

“Work it out, baby,” he said, laying on the bed naked. His head pressed against the headboard with his thick, black hair brushed up and over his head like an Outsider from the 50s. His Italian eyes I once thought looked sad. Now, they looked heavy with seduction.

When I told my sister I was dating a full-blooded American-Italian she typed, “Yuck. Latin lovers are the worst.”

Those eyes brought me back, though. His arm was hung around the back of his head, stretching his biceps, almost forlornly watching. He didn’t try to wrangle me or cajole me back to the bed. He just watched me, feeling bad when I cried and satisfied when I returned. Recently, I watched “Scarface” and realized Michael had AL Pacino’s eyes. He knew I would be back and gave me the space to mourn my loss. When I wept, I don’t know what he thought I was thinking of or feeling. I can tell you the recurring memory was my parents kicking me out. If my parents can abandon me, anyone can. I had to cry it out, pathetically, naked, alone, next to the ice box and empty champagne bottle. I needed to work it out.

“Work it out, baby.”

al-pacino-20 al-pacino-20-1

To start my new family, I needed to mourn the old one. I cried and I came back to him.

We made love. We watched the Princess Story Time on the Resident Only Disney Channel. “Why is she using that voice? Doesn’t she know kids don’t like being condescended to? I can’t bear this.”

I took an MDMA pill. My serotonin was already depleted from the Ecstasy. However, I was launched into a world of floating pillows and white bed sheets like Jasmine the Agrabah princess. I couldn’t raise my physical senses any higher, but napped and levitated until the sun set.

a dream

a dream 2

***

A lover of 5 years confessed to making out with his 1st cousin as a child and described walking into his father’s hospital room, while he was dying of lung cancer, then leaving immediately without saying a word. His father died before he could find the courage to speak.

Another lover of several months once described a moment where his birth mother accused him of being a “faggot” before abandoning him as an adolescent.

Love for a women is immediate. She opens her body to pregnancy and disease on the word of a man. She sacrifices her pulse and movement to a man, as he enters her. Men don’t experience this, though themselves are made of flesh, blood and bone. Words, you see, amount to nothing.

vag

It was much later in our relationship, in June, when I was having a nervous breakdown about residency, about love, life and rejection, that Michael invited me into the bathroom. “Do you want to watch me poop? Would that make you feel better?”

“Yeah,” I whimpered. It would. And it did.

I pulled a chair into our tiny bathroom and sat there holding his hand when I heard the first plop. I was crying all night and suddenly smiled. He could reveal as much of himself as I needed to … in order to love again.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Getting Pissed in Beverly Hills

(For those of you who know me personally, this is a unabridged version of a published blog from earlier this year)

My friend Corinne asked if I was doing anything Saturday night and if I had a cocktail dress. I said I wasn’t doing anything and did, indeed, have a cocktail dress. That is all I knew when I pulled up to her apartment, carsick and hot from traffic, Saturday afternoon. She was in a stunning, baby blue, one strap evening gown. 

Almost immediately, I felt inadequate. “I got this at the Ross Dress for Less  in the Junior’s section,” I said.
“Leave it, your boobs look great,” she said.

It only took 20 minutes or so before we drove up to the Beverly Hilton valet. “You would tell me if I was underdressed, right?” I asked.

“Yes, and tell me if my extensions come out,” she said.

Me and Corinne at Genesis Awards

We walked into the hotel and mixed into a small pool of people wearing various gowns and dresses, mostly with an Old Hollywood feeling to it. Sequins. Mid-thigh length. Accentuated shoulders. Not a lot of bold colors. Not a lot of Ross Dress for Less.

We collected our passes and waited outside the doors to the open bar until they slowly opened. Corinne and I were among the first at the bar. We both ordered Heinekens and stood there for an awkward second or two. There was a slideshow with various animal pictures rotating at a rather pleasant speed on the wall and monitors. “I could just stand here, sip my beer and look at animal pictures,” I said.

Instead, we headed over to the red carpet. Beatrice, the Frenchie from “Modern Family”, was walking down the red carpet. My cheeks burned, my heart thumped and I did everything possible to keep from crawling down on the red carpet and cornering Beatrice in front of the photographers. There were other human guests on the red carpet; Pauley Perrette of NCIS and Carrie Ann Inaba, a judge on Dancing with the Stars and Moby.

Moby on the red carpet

Wendie Malick of “Just Shoot Me” walked up and around our second or third drink, Corinne approached her and said, “I loved you on ‘News Radio’.”

“Thank you,” Wendie said, “but I was never on News Radio.” Then she walked into the VIP room.

“Crap,” Corinne said, “I just messed up with Wendie Malick.”

wendie-malick-the-humane-societys-2013-genesis_3572622

“I am sure she gets it all the time,” I said, turning my attention back to the red carpet. Leo, a German Shepherd, was just about to walk the red carpet with two uniformed police officers. Rocky, a long-haired jack russell, was in his olive-green sweater. I was patiently allowed to pet all three dogs featured on the red carpet.  I turned to a man I never met before, sipping a drink with his girlfriend, and said, “There is like a surge of dopamine released from my brain whenever I see dogs. It clouds my mind. It is like taking ecstasy at Disneyland.”

He paused over his drink and wrinkled his brow, unsure of what to make of me.

“Where are you from?” Corinne asked.

“Arizona,” he said.

“Ah, they just passed a law preventing transgenders from using restrooms that don’t correspond with their gender at birth … but I mean, how can you enforce that?” I asked.

“You can’t,” he said, “Women use the men’s room all the time when the line is too long.”

“I know I do,” Corinne said.

“Yup, standing at a urinal before, I have looked side to side and have seen women using the urinals next to me,” he said. “Where are you from?”

“She is from Holland,” I said, volunteering my friend into the line of questioning.

“Where is that?” he said.

“Amsterdam …”

“Ok,” he said, “Germany?”

“No.”

“Austria?”

“No.”

“Sweden?”

“You need to consult a globe, sir,” I said.

“In that general area,” Corinne softened.

Beatrice on Red Carpet 3

We came back through to the open bar and I decided to switch over to Chardonnay. Usually I do better pacing myself with beer, but once I saw a glass of white wine, my jaw tightened and my mouth grew dry.
We perused the silent auction. There was jewelry, travel packages (one trip to South America starting at $2300), Taylor Swift concert tickets, paintings (some by artists, some by animals), a motorcycle … pretty much anything you can imagine starting well above what I could afford. The $15 folded in my clutch had to last me another week, so I sadly strolled by one beautiful, shiny item after another.

We were seated at tables for dinner and served a salad for an opening course, and then a steak-like patty with a side of vegetables and a purple carrot, I have since discovered is called ‘Purple Haze’ in organic gardening circles. The food was delicious, the “meat” patty crumbled in my mouth, warm in a light gravy. My server was named Carlos.

Menu

“Carlos,” I asked, “What is this delightful thing here? Vegan?”

“Yes, everything is vegan,” he said, in broken English.

“And this meat-like thing, what is it called?”

“Veggie. Everything veggies,” he said.

“Yes, but is there a name?”

“Veggie,” he said again.

“Ok, I guess it’s called Veggie,” I said to the others.

***

Dinner table conversation at places like this are tricky. The natural theme that connects us all is our care and compassion for animals, but discussing inhumane treatment of animals can turn a “Veggie” into an unpredictable rip current of alcohol, gravy and stomach acid.

“Did you see that video of the man shooting the horse point blank? Some kind of message to animal activists?”

“No, but did you hear about what happened in La Jolla?”

“Yeah, I would like to kick her in the stomach … kicking seals … get me in a room with her so she can see how it feels ..”

“What happened with the horse?”

“He shot it, point blank. Killed it. It is on YouTube.”

The man at our table in a black velvet newsboy cap put down his silverware and thrust both hands up in the air as if surrendering. “No more,” he said, “I can’t hear anymore.”

“I’m sorry,” I said. “We’ll stop. Let’s talk purple carrot. How is that purple carrot?”

He softened and lifted his knife and spoon again, “It is like a mix of red peppers and yellow peppers. I really like it.”

***

After the dessert, which was pure chocolate deliciousness, the lights were dimmed and the awards show began. Beatrice came out to present the Sid Caesar award, which showcases comedy. “Futurama”, “The New Normal” and “The Colbert Report” were all nominated, and Stephen Colbert won his third award in a row for a spot on Steve King and dogfighting.  That was about the time the bottle of white wine was drained and the laughter stopped. The awards to follow were all very much about exposing the torture and exploitation of animals or promoting the rehabilitation of those animals.

This was around the time I switched to the bottle of red because it was the only alcohol in sight and I needed to fuzz out the blood and pain in the clips from the nominees.

Gala Dinner

Nominated for best TV Documentary:
“Ivory Wars” from the Discovery Channel
“One Nation Under Dogs” from HBO
“Street Dogs of South Central” from Animal Planet

TV News Magazine
“Deadly Pets” on 20/20 from ABC
“The Race to Save The Tortoise “on 60 Minutes from CBS
“Cockfighting Investigation” on Inside Edition on syndication.
“The Ugly Truth Behind High Stepping Horses” on Nightline from ABC.
"At What Cost" Orangutans facing extinction in Indonesia by Brian Williams on NBC

National News
“Downer Cows” by Diane Sawyer
“Ivory Poaching” by Scott Pelley
“Hurricane Sandy: Protecting Our Pets” on NBC Nightly News

Local News
"Saving the Discarded Dogs" by FOX 31 News at 9 in Denver
"Bunny Trafficking" on KNBC 4 News
"Busted in Oklahoma" on TV 19 Action news (exposing the abuse in an exotic animal park)

As each presenter announced the nominees in each category, the lights dimmed, a video clip started and the booming audio of voices from the clip echoed across the ballroom. Often, I would cover my face with my hands, occasionally peeking through my fingers to see an animal struck, yanked on, dragged or murdered. I could hear the others at my table weeping with the occasional, “Oh My God” whispered over the silenced clatter of glasses and plates. Then I felt the warm water ooze from eyes and through my fingers. I heard myself weep into my palms, and slowly lost my breath. You spend all year avoiding video and pictures of war, dog fighting, poaching, famine and whatever other atrocity against our world out there in faraway places, or even next door. You know it is there. You plop money in a jar when asked. You hand a banana to a man begging on the side of the freeway ramp. You rescued your dogs. You volunteered at that event or even trained for that marathon. You do what you can to keep your mind from rattling, from screaming, from bleeding out into your eyes and mouth in hopelessness and despair without actually looking the beast in the eye.

In that ballroom, on Saturday night, nothing was there to protect us.

Guest Benefits Book

“I am going to the bathroom,” Corinne said. I joined her and we tinkled, blew our noses and dabbed at our make-up with other women hiding from the ugly reality of our world in a posh bathroom. The truth is without the televised exposure, without the audio and video capturing one cruel moment after the next, no one would be shamed, no one would face consequences, and nothing would change.

With our dresses pulled back in place, our eyeliner and mascara cleaned up and the paper towels tossed aside, we walked back into the dark ballroom to bear witness again.

“Hey … hey,” Corinne whispered to me, “Tell me that isn’t a real fur on the back of her chair.”

A woman at the table in front of us had a black, fur coat draped over the back of her chair.

“It has to be faux. This is the Humane Society,” I said.

“Not necessarily. At The Hero Dog Awards a woman had a real fur.”

“No way …” I said, staring at the woman’s fur. Corinne took a picture of it on her phone. We all needed someone to blame. The poachers weren’t there that night at the hotel. The exotic animal trainer who shoves and kicks his animals wasn’t there. The countless medical laboratories and cosmetics companies who ruthlessly test on live animals were home or at work. We needed a common enemy to extinguish that annoying feeling that we were helpless to the monster. So, this woman, in her late 50s or early 60s, sat at the table, absorbing tear stained glares from the tables around her.

“Go ask her if it is real,” Corinne prodded.

I finished the bottle of red. “Ok,” I said. “I am gonna do it.”

When the awards show wrapped and the house lights rose again, everyone popped out of their seats and chatter filled the room. I walked over to the woman. “Excuse me, may I ask where you got a fur that looks so real?”

“Oh, it is fake. I assure you it is fake. I would never bring a real fur to something like this,” she said. Does that mean she has a real one at home? Maybe not. Keep calm.

“Oh, my friend and I were just admiring it and I told her there is no way it could be real.”

“Of course not!” she said, almost indignant. Then she peeled the tag on the inside of the coat over. It read “100% faux”. I nodded, offered another compliment and then slinked away, a little disappointed.

We all wanted to hunt down someone with our torches, our pail of hot tar and bag of feathers. We wanted to right what had been wronged. We wanted someone to pay for the lives that were taxed, sold and killed. All the frustration, all the grieving and shock, all the heartbreak had to go somewhere, onto someone …. but not because of a fur coat at an Award’s Benefit. That isn’t the answer.

We need to talk about it, write about it. We need to listen and learn. We need to educate ourselves and each other.

We can show the world animal activists aren’t a group of emotional basket cases who lack leadership, logic and organization. We need to stand strong, next to each other. Assume more discipline. Grow more tolerant. And love … love the world, love the animals and love each other. Only then can the world really become resilient and brave enough to face the beast.We will never kill it, but we can fight.

PhotoBooth

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Violent, Graceful, Terribly Wonderful Life of Angels

After my birthday, my ex-boyfriend Abe wanted to drop by with a belated birthday gift. The last time I saw him was in October, before my boyfriend Michael, before my new life. He called on holidays and left a voicemail wishing me a Happy something or other. I texted back a thank you and explained how busy I was. We hadn’t really had a conversation.  I suspected he thought it was the perfect romantic arrangement; I was too busy to talk and see him but still there … somewhere.

He stopped by when I was alone in the house.  He brought me a box and was smiling when he came in. We hugged and spoke briefly about things.

“Hey, you have a tree outside. That would be good for tying the dogs to if you want them outside,” he said.
“Yeah, how about I tie you up out there for an hour and see how you like it,” I said.

Even after two years, he never understood my love for animals. His idea in my old apartment with a yard was to keep the dogs permanently outside and barricade them from the porch.

When Michael was hanging out in my living room while we were just dating, he watched my pit bull Esther climb the arm of the couch and look out the window like a house cat. “You get it. You let your dogs do whatever they want. That’s what I really like about you. You get it.”

Sitting on Maggie

Maggie and Esther on Porch Destroyed

Some may say I don’t “discipline” my dogs but the truth is I just don’t control them. I don’t need to prove domination over them. I know I have a greater understanding of the human world around us, the dangers and realities. I don’t have to make them wait for their dinner or keep them off the furniture to prove it. I don’t want to sit on my couch unless my dogs are there. I don’t want to sleep in my bed unless my dogs are there. Everything else doesn’t really matter. I could never afford expensive things. The dogs were once destructive, but the less emotional I am about things, the calmer they are. The less I try to control them, the more harmonious the household.

***

“Greg disappeared so Michael moved in. Do you remember Michael from Doggie Daycare?” I asked.

“Yeah. I remember him,” Abe kind of quietly sang.

“We are in that bedroom and Frank is still in the back room.”

“Oh …” Abe thought, looking confused then distressed. “You two must be pretty cramped in that room sharing the same bed.”

“HAHA!” Then I remembered he had no inkling I was in a relationship. “Mike and I are together, like dating.”

“… Oh,” he said. “I thought Michael was gay.”

“Me too,” I said, digging my bare toes into the curve of the tile. “I guess he isn’t.” I shrugged and offered up a lopsided smile.

“Good … I am glad you are happy,” he said a little strained but genuine.

“I finally found someone who wants to move in with me.” I almost regretted saying that aloud, but often I think about how close Abe and I were to moving in and how obvious it was (now) he just didn’t want to.

Abe stayed to talk about how he was discovering the secret to expanding his life span to biblical standards. 2,000 years.  It was something he discovered with the water. He was building something to change the water using magnetism or electricity in some method I didn’t understand. I listened.

“Why are you smiling at me like that?” he asked.

“Just … this is fascinating but so very you.”

“Well, I could share it with you,” he offered. “Once I figure out the formula we could live like Moses.”

“Yeah, I could be your 2,000 year old platonic queen.” I laughed. He didn’t really.

We said our goodbyes and I opened up the birthday package to find several containers of marijuana bud, Marijuana infused iced tea, soap from the South of France and a $100 bill.  When showing it to Frank, he looked to Mike and said, “Uh oh, he is showing us up.”

That was Abe though. He swept in with a grand gesture of generosity every once in a while and then disappeared in long silences. I had no idea what he thought, what he hoped or what he wanted. And now, I don’t care.

***

Alia invited Frank, me and Michael over for a barbeque one night. She said I should bring the dogs so they could use the yard to stretch out. We all took swigs of whisky before heading out to the West Hills in what used to be a home. Temporary as it was, Alia saved my life. She gave me shelter when I was stuck in Washington, living in a strange man’s house with no way out. She was my out.

That night we returned to her. We all piled the dogs in the car and drove out.  At her house was a friend she invited and Ryan, her boyfriend. When we arrived, we agreed that I should go to the grocery store with Frank to buy food since I was vegan.

We left for Pavilions and I waded under the florescent lights, drifting from cold aisle to cold aisle, making quick and painless decisions on this or that. When we returned, something was off.

“Where is Michael?” I asked.

“He is walking the dogs,” she said. “In a sense…”

“In a sense?” I asked.

“They kinda … ran away,” she said.

The moment hit me like cold water. I froze. Dropped my keys. Dropped my purse. And I took off running.
I burst out onto the sidewalk. West Hills isn’t a busy town, but Alia’s house is one block from a busy street.

“Maggie! MAGGIE!”

Maggie was my oldest. Esther was my other pit bull and deaf. Because she was deaf, she would most likely follow Maggie where ever she went. Brad returned before I even knew they were missing. I was later told he was the one who wandered back in through the garage door and tipped them off to the other two missing.

Family Pic
(from left to right) Maggie May, Brad
(in back) Esther

My worst fear is someone will shoot them simply because they are pit bulls.  It happens.  The second fear, they are hit by a car. Or they are picked up and never returned because their microchip has traveled under their skin and isn’t registered on the scanner, or someone keeps them in their yard or sells them for experimentation. I have read about every possible outcome, and like a frantic mother I screamed their names and ran in random directions hoping something would come from the black perimeter.  You listen to your heart. You close your ears and your mouth and let your gut lead you down one alley, beyond a yard, around a random corner.

“MAGGIE! GET OVER HERE NOWWWWW!” I screamed until my voice cracked. I was panting at the base of my throat. I would be hyperventilating if I wasn’t so focused in the moment. I turned my head for anything, any cue. A sound. A silence. A movement.

In the corner of my eye, I saw a white head crossing four lanes of traffic. “ESTHER!” I screamed, even though she couldn’t hear me. I waved my hand impatiently for her to come to me. She reads my hand gestures and obediently crossed the river of traffic to me, smiling and wagging her tail from the adventure.

I took her collar and led her into Alia’s.

“Close the doors!” I ordered.  Polite went out the window. I was in Mommy mode. I went back outside as Brad looked at me worried, one paw up and tail shaking so fast it was a blur. He always does that when he knows something is wrong.

I slammed the front door and ran back out into the night. Michael was out there looking. I think Ryan was, too.  My phone was dying and I was convinced that if anyone was going to find Maggie it was me. My mother’s intuition would bring us together like two magnetic strips a half an inch apart, we only had a neighborhood between us.

I ran down the sidewalk and tripped on a bump in the concrete and tumbled down on the ground, ripping open my pants and cutting open my knee. My phone smashed and flew in pieces, gone somewhere in the night. I got back up and ran, fully aware I was bordering on hysteria now.

“Maggie! MAGGIE MAY! MAGGIE, YOU COME HOME NOW!”

I screamed, waiting for something. I was two blocks south of Alia’s on the busy street. I looked south. Then I looked north. The traffic was stopped. The headlights were all frozen and motionless in one, uniform line.

That was bad. I took off running again screaming, “MAGGIE MAY!!!!!”

On the sidewalk, Ryan and Alia were both holding Maggie. She was panting frantically in her Pooh Bear pose. Her rump on the ground and both legs spread for her pot belly.

“She was hit by a car but she is ok. She just has a broken leg,” Alia said.

“AHHHHHHH!” I screamed and fell to my knees. This is how I remember it. I don’t know if they told me to get my car, but there was some exchange with direction. I ran back to the house, dumped out my purse on the floor but couldn’t find my keys. I screamed again.

Alia’s friend kept his distance. I believe up to that point he had a crush on me.  When you see a woman on the precipice of losing her child, she transforms. I screamed. He backed away. I left again and ran back to Maggie.

“I couldn’t find my keys,” I said.

“That’s ok, Ryan is bringing the car around,” she said.  “She is ok … she just has a broken leg.”

“I don’t have any money!!!”  I said. There was a few hundred dollars in cash I kept in a washed out pickle jar back at the house. I knew about vet bills. They can ruin you. They have already ruined me.

Was it Ryan that arrived with the car … or Frank? I don’t remember. I only know Alia took the wheel while Maggie sat in the passenger seat. There was blood and she was panting like crazy. Frank was in the back seat with me.  Maggie crawled under the dash into a big, brown plump ball.

“Come on, Maggie!” Frank said with a father’s cut.

Frank and Alia were trying to find the nearest vet hospital, but it was closed.  We all were having phone problems. The batteries were dying or dead.

“Between the three of us, we don’t have a working cell phone?” I asked dryly.

They responded with something. My head was in a cloud. The two of them were working out suggestions and my tears kept pooling over my mouth.  When Maggie crawled under the dash, I knew it was bad. I knew it wasn’t a broken leg.

I clasped my hands together against the window and began praying. Now, I grew up Catholic but I am not religious at all. I wouldn’t say I am atheist. I would say I am too human to know what is really going on.
“Please God, don’t take my baby. She is my baby. I am not ready yet. Don’t take her. I am not ready. I AM NOT READY!” I whimpered sharply at the end of each prayer. I knew she was old. 10 or 11 years old. Statistics say she will only live another year or two. I didn’t care. She was my arthritic, old, grouchy baby.

I rescued her 5 years ago in a strip mall in Hollywood. I trained her. I fed her. I saved her. And she saved me.

Maggie and Esther came with me when I left my longest relationship. They came with me when I ran out of unemployment benefits and moved to a shack in Sylmar. They came with me to my parents’ house when I had exhausted all my finances. They came with me to a strange old man’s house in the backwoods of Washington when my parents kicked me out with no money.

I never gave them up and they never gave up on me. If I lost my dogs, I lost my soul.


Mommy sick

*

We ended up at an emergency vet hospital. We parked and I got out of the car and rang the bell. No answer.  Somehow I got in and ran down the hallways, opened up doors to back hallways screaming “IS ANYONE HERE????” I was wild.

A vet team came out with me to the parking lot and opened the car door. The vet tech took one look at Maggie and said, “$1,500 just to get her stabilized.”

I threw myself on the pavement, screaming. “WHY???? I don’t have any money!! God damn it! WHY!!!?”
I was on the ground, I felt the spit and tears spill out on the pavement. I felt the eyes of the other family in the waiting room look me over. I didn’t care. All I could hear was ringing in my head.

How did she get out?

How was she hit?

When will the bad luck end?

I remember the gravel pressed against my forehead when Frank’s arms wrapped around me.

“Pull yourself together!” he said, lifting me up. “Pull yourself together for Maggie.” I could feel the warmth of his breath on my ear.

Me and Maggie in Malibu

He lifted me up again, and I felt my whole body held in the air. I didn’t know he was that strong.  This time when the soles of my shoes hit the ground, I took off running back inside the hospital.  I followed Maggie and the vet team in. I must have given permission to do whatever they had to do, because she was taken in the back and stabilized.

Alia, Frank and I were in an exam room talking to the vet. Michael wasn’t there because his phone was dying and he didn’t have a car. I hated him for being as disorganized as the rest of us.

X-rays were put up. “What we have here is a lot of internal bleeding. That is what all this fog is right here. It is hard to say what the damage is with so much bleeding right now, but so far it looks like her lungs and heart are intact,” the vet said. “You can see the bones aren’t broken here but there is a lot of arthritic … wait a minute … how old is this dog?”

“We don’t know. She is a rescue. But I know, she suffers from a lot of arthritis,” I said.

“It’s not that, it is just you can see a lot of the arthritic pressure on her bones here and here.” If it isn’t that, then why did you just repeat what I said?

“She is older so I am worried that, you know, her life is in danger because she is so old,” I said.

“Well, it doesn’t matter the age of the dog but the general health. And the general health of this dog is good.”
“Is her life in danger right now?” I asked.

“Oh yes. Her life is definitely in danger right now. All we can do is either go in and remove the spleen, which looks ruptured right here. That procedure is about $2400. That is what we would recommend. I know you are financially strained right now, so maybe that isn’t an option. Or we could wait for the body to absorb as much blood as it can and I have seen spleens repair themselves. There was a dog I treated where the spleen was severed almost completely in half. That spleen repaired itself. However, then it is always in danger of rupturing again from physical activity.”

“She isn’t very physical,” I said into my soggy tissue. She can barely trot anymore.

“So, you have the instruments here, now, to help this dog survive and you will not save this life because of money. Is that right?” Alia asked.

“Well, it isn’t me. It’s the hospital. I cannot move forward without some kind of monetary-“ he was cut off.

“So what you are saying is you could save a life. You have everything here and ready to save this dog’s life. But you are choosing not to because of money,” she said again.

“I don’t care for the implication that-“ now I cut him off.

“Stop! I have a few hundred dollars in cash back home. I will drive back or get someone to drive back, grab the cash and help get her through the night. We will just hope the spleen repairs itself.”

The vet kind of hung his head. It was the middle of the night now. My dog’s life was in the balance. He knew what was at stake. And I am sure he saw it a million times before.

They stabilized Maggie and I was allowed to go back and see her. By this time, my hysterical weeping stopped and my eyes were so puffy and red, I could barely see out of them. I hovered over her. She tried to lift her head but the drugs and fatigue made it hard. I told her it was ok to lie back down and she rested her head on the table.

There was blood coming out of her mouth and a skid mark on her back. I was assured the blood from her mouth wasn’t serious.

Frank saw the hit. He said a truck ran completely over her at 30 miles an hour. It was a busy street. They were calling for her, she saw my friends and happily trotted towards them without a thought.

The truck stopped then took off, leaving her there in the middle of the road like road kill. Ryan and Frank carried her to the side of the road. Ryan looked up at Frank, Frank who loves Maggie maybe more than he loves me, and calmly said “Run.” Frank said he will always remember and respect Ryan for that one moment. To be the voice of clarity when blood and tears flooded the mind, Ryan held my baby and told him to run.

Frank also said he would always be haunted by the image of the hit and run. Every time he started to describe it I asked him to stop. I would obsess over every detail. I would relive it in my mind until the day I died. I couldn’t pin that on my memory with everything else. It is hard enough forgetting violent images of people in faraway countries, animals in not so far away neighborhoods. I didn’t need that image of someone I held so dear, so close to my heart.

I sat next to Maggie and stroked her fur. Her eyes fluttered shut. Michael walked in. He took my car and stopped at two vet hospitals before arriving to the right one. He just hit them in order on his iPhone map app. He was weeping. He was wearing the olive green and maroon striped hoodie I bought him for Christmas. His jeans were ripped and he had white sneakers on. He is a small man, about 5’4. Somehow, in that moment, he never looked smaller to me. He looked like a teenage kid who made a terrible mistake one night while babysitting.

When he came over, he started crying over Maggie.

“She needs to focus on healing right now, so please stop stressing her out!” I said coldly.

“Okay … okay,” he said, whimpering.

Alia had pulled us both aside to say one thing or another about staying strong, relying on each other. How we are all there for Maggie and she needs our support.

“I just don’t know how all three of my dogs could have walked out without anyone noticing,” I said, again coldly.

“We opened the garage door so the barbeque smoke could get out,” Alia said, softly.

“And why were the dogs left unattended by an open door?” Michael once asked if I grew up with a speech impediment because I use such long hand articulation.  I wasn't, I just didn't speak very much until after puberty.

“It was our fault. It was my fault, too,” she said. I knew it. I was mad at Michael because I was allowed to be mad at Michael. We were close enough that I could be comfortably rude. Also, he was a dog sitter.  A dog person. Their doggie daddy. He should have known better. My most precious gifts weren’t looked after in the 25 minutes I left to buy goddamn potato chips and that will always make me a little crazy.

Alia stroked both our arms and said something inspirational. When she walked away I said, quite plainly, “If she doesn’t make it, I don’t know how our relationship can survive.”

“I know it,” he said, just as plainly.

We had to lay down a few hundred. Michael gave over his whole paycheck. I had some money on my debit. I even think Frank chipped in a significant amount so we weren’t financially ruined.

They told me I could only lie next to her for awhile. She was back in the general ER area where other procedures were happening, and we couldn’t be in the way or stress the animals out.  Maggie was put on the ground with an IV and blanket. I lay down next to her and tried not to press too much weight on her. Michael sat by her head.

I know what they say. When it is time, you have to let go. You have to sometimes give a loved one permission to go away. This particular night, I wasn’t that better person. I begged her to hang on. I pressed my body against her back and said, “Stay with me, baby. I am not leaving you. You hang on for mommy, ok?”

I closed my eyes and felt myself on a dock, holding on to Maggie as she set adrift to a wide ocean. I could FEEL that. “You don’t leave me,” I said. “Not yet.”

Maggie would pass away someday, but not now. Someday when she was grey and old, too achy to walk, too tired to eat, too fat to stand. Frank already said he pictured himself taking off her collar moments before she passed away. The mention of this a year earlier in a Greek restaurant, of course, pushed me to tears.  Losing them is not something I can discuss. It will be a moment I will have to face without preparation.

maggie esther brad

*

Maggie had a “hard life” for the first five years. When I took her to a pit bull rescue, the woman said she could tell she suffered. She had probably been through 5 or 6 pregnancies. Her knees and elbows were furless from living on concrete. She had a cigarette burn on her right buttock.  The fur was rubbed raw from behind her ears to around her nose, as if she lived in a muzzle.

Our first photo together
Our first photo together

When I took her home off the streets of Hollywood, she was fucking thrilled. I never saw a dog so happy to sleep in a crate in a living room. She became my whole world. She became Esther’s whole world. Maggie, with her sad eyes and arched eye brows, her frequent yawns followed by heavy eye lids, the drool over food you had the nerve to eat on the couch in front of her would pool and trickle down from her lower lip to the floor, THAT Maggie would suffer a violent end after everything I gave her.

Esther hugs Maggie

Maggie While I Study

Maggie Unamused

Maggie Sleepy on Hotel Bed

When I walked Maggie for the first time, her paws bled. She hadn’t ever been exposed to sidewalks or exercise before. She didn’t know what to do with the bone I gave her. She only knew that she wanted to be close to me. So I taught her how to walk and sit and jump and lay down. I gave her rawhides, and Himalayan Yak Milk chews, and biscuits and pig ears, beef elbows, bully sticks, raw food and vegetables. I showed her the hills of Hollywood, the mountains behind Pasadena, the backwoods of Washington state, the river beds and forests of the Angeles National Forest, the top of Topanga canyon and the bottom of Malibu beach. She ran along the beaches of San Diego and San Onofre.

Sun Tan

Beaches

Car ride

 I gave her a sister and a brother, lots of foster dogs to play with and love. Lots of strange, wonderful people to watch and nuzzle. I gave her a second chance. How could that be over already? There was more I wanted to give her.

Maggie and Fosters

Maggie and Pet Sitter

Child Rides Maggie

A lot of women will say they felt the most like a woman when they raised a child or got married or achieved some level of beauty and grace.  For me, it was when Esther and Maggie were in training class, downtown at the Coliseum. One of the “tests” was to call your dog, off leash, from 50 feet away. Both girls came plowing towards me when I called their name. Crouched with my arms outstretched, they knocked me completely over. I trained these pit bulls. I felt safe for the first time in my life walking at night, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. Men crossed the street to avoid me instead of following me and asking me questions. The dogs stood by me through broken hearts, lovers and estranged parents, financial destitution, getting fired, getting sick. They taught me what love and loyalty really were on some level human beings have forgotten.

Maggie. Aka The Magster. Aka Mag Pies. Aka The Tank. Aka Maggie May. My Maggie was facing death after the most pivotal 5 years of my life. It was an unjust end to one of the richest friendships, one of the purest loves, of my life.

Maggie in shower cap

Maggie for Halloween

Wise Dogs

Her breathing became erratic. She was gasping, like she was going to have a heart attack.

“Michael … Michael …” I softly screamed.

He woke up and put his hand on her. He spoke to her softly and we stared at her until the staff asked us to leave. We had to sleep in the waiting room. Frank and Alia went home. They both said they couldn’t do anything there at the hospital. They really couldn’t.

Michael sat up in the small, stiff chairs while I broke my body over the uncomfortable metal arm rests. The air conditioning was spilling all over me and my thin sweatshirt was barely enough to keep me from forgetting the cold. My head fell on his lap. His hand combed through my hair. I couldn’t stop thinking about those gasps for air. After 45 minutes, I asked to return to Maggie. They let us.

The resident cat came up to Maggie and sniffed her. Maggie was so doped up, all she could do was sway her head around in a haze and stare back. “Well, this is the first and last time a cat will ever get that close to Maggie,” I said, laughing.

We fell asleep next to her.

They woke us and said we should move into a kennel. All three of us lazily walked into a large kennel and lay on thin blankets and cold concrete til dawn. Michael texted my boss to tell her what was happening and I was given the day off.

At dawn, the vet came in. “Well, it looks like she made it through the night. Every hour she lives it increases her likelihood for survival. She has a really good chance now.”

“I don’t want to leave …” I said, groggily.

“She will be ok. Why don’t you go home, get some food and sleep in a bed for a few hours. We will call you if anything changes,” he said, gentler than he had earlier in the night.

I whispered in her ear that I would be back and to get better. She wouldn’t go back to sleep. She tried to stand on wobbly legs and follow us out, the IV tube stretching out to meet me. “No, no, no. You stay, Maggie. Mommy will be back. I promise.”

As we left, the nurse smiled at us in the lobby. “She was watching both of you while you were sleeping. It was very cute.”

***

We went back to Alia’s, so we were close. She gave us her bedroom and told us to sleep. Frank would head back to the house for a change of clothes, cash and any other necessities. He would take home the other two kids who knew something was terribly wrong.  I think someone gave me food, but I don’t remember eating it. I was bleeding. An unscheduled period from the shock. I borrowed a tampon and slept with Michael for a few hours.

I needed to remain still in a permanent embrace.

In the afternoon, we called the vet. They said Maggie could go home but it she wouldn’t be able to walk or really recover for a few weeks. I didn’t care. We would build her a wagon. We would spoon feed her. Maggie would be coming home.

Alia seemed so sure of it. “That’s right! That’s Maggie! She fought and she won!” I never thought Alia really doubted Maggie would make it, but I started to realize everyone doubted she would make it. They were just keeping me sane.

***

The spare room at home was set up as a kind of hospice. It isn’t much of a spare room, you can’t fit a real bed in there. Maggie was given a beanbag and blankets. I slept, ate and did homework in there for a full week. We gave her medicine and spoke to her. The dogs slept against her. In a day she was sitting up. In two days she was urinating and defecating normally. And then, in less than a week, she was walking again.

Sick Maggie

Maggie's Hospice

Maggie Heals

I knew it was one of her last miracles.

If she died, what would I have learned?

She wouldn’t be the first pet to die an untimely death. Life isn’t fair. Death is certain. People are reckless assholes.

One time, my sister was crying over a dog she loved  who died of some kind of blood poisoning. When it struck, he only had a few days left and there was nothing she could have done. While weeping on my couch over her broken heart, she said, “What if dogs lived for 30 years? Then I would have to kill myself.” The love is so divine; I choose the word divine because nothing else seems proper. The love is so celestial that we are only graced with it in small doses. It is a gift for small stretches of a human life. Human love is something we must gnaw on, bleed over and suffer through for a lifetime.  In people we learn to forgive, to negotiate, to grow, transform and fight. In dogs, we only learn loyalty and devotion.  Who could survive the human world fed only on loyalty and devotion? We would be killed out there. It is a window into another type of existence none of us are ready for. Not yet. Not me. Not you. Not Abe and not Michael.
Now Maggie is stretched out on the bed, giving me dirty looks for throwing raspberry kisses at her butt. She hates that.

Maggie May. My queen. My child. My love. My second chance.

Maggie Smile

my queen

Maggie and Esther

I was given a little more time. I don’t pretend to know why, but I know it was brought to me by angels.

Thank you.

 Maggie Sleeps