Sunday, November 21, 2010

I Remain Pure

I'm happy to report that we made it through airport security this morning with our carry-on bags and our dignity. No scanning, no groping, not even so much as a handshake. Considering we were traveling with the most motley assortment of shit in the world, including an animatronic cat (DON'T ASK), I think we did pretty well. Gianni was even a little bummed that he didn't get to go through the scanner, and also pleased that his least favorite security machine ever, only known as The Puffer and only mentioned in fearful tones, has been retired for a security strategy that focuses less on puffs of air and more on genitalia.

Now relaxing in DFW airport, which resembles nothing so much as a gigantic Greyhound bus station. Mmmmm, urinal cake whiff....

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I'm a Whore....for Convenience

Here at the start of the holiday traveling season, there's a lot of uproar about the new TSA screening procedures. I have to admit I haven't studied them backward and forward, but the gist seems to be:

  • It's gonna take a whole lot longer to get through the god damned security line
  • There will be front and back body scanning
  • Upon refusal to submit to a body scan, there will be groping. Oh yes there will
While I don't welcome yet more delays in my air travel experience and I do think that these measures just add to the growing list of Things That Do Fuckall to Prevent Terrorist Attacks, I'm really a little perplexed and amused by the amount of outcry among people about the impropriety of the body scans and their bastard alternative, the expanded pat-down. There's are movement asking people to Opt Out of body scans and go for the pat-down or even break up with air travel altogether to protest these measures.

I've thought long and hard about this. And I've come to the conclusion that: I really don't care if the TSA sees me naked. I mean, really. It's not anything anyone hasn't seen before. And as far as someone getting off on my scanned image or about the world being able to tell it's me if it ends up on Oh PLEASE. These image scans will be about as erotic as an x-ray or a health class filmstrip. So if some fat TSA creep wants to use the body scanner as his government-issue x-ray specs, whatevs. It's not enough to make me opt for the body search, which in my opinion has MORE risk for offending behavior. And as for the expanded searching, I'm perfectly capable of screaming bloody murder if there's a bad touch, and I encourage others to do so. It's within our rights--just ask Penn Jillette.

Am I REALLY going to drive 2000 miles to visit my parents as an alternative to flying? That may be your choice, but it ain't mine. (Yes, I know it's about larger principle, but if we become a cloistered, provincial nation that spends 2/3 of its vacation time numbing its butt on long car trips, the terrorists really have won.)

I'm not willing to forego air travel or raise a stink about scanners. But I AM willing to ask for concessions. Hey, TSA, how about if in exchange for a body scan, you let me and my family keep our fucking shoes on when we go through security? A chance to bypass the family goat rodeo that is security line shoe removal is worth a peep.

And if I let you get to second base in the pat-down, what say you let me take ALL of my hair and beauty products in my carryon instead of trying to wedge negligible amounts of a select few into a 1-quart baggie? Do you think I just get out of bed in the morning looking like this? It's takes a lot of work to look this good for you, TSA.

In all seriousness, I'm concerned with the usefulness of these tactics and where it will end. But at this point, not concerned enough to get bent out of shape for my Thanksgiving trip next week or any near-future travel I may have. HOWEVER-- if the TSA introduces airport shoe mirrors, I may have to raise an eyebrow.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Health Insurance 101

Hey, Rep. Andy Harris. I hear you're having a little trouble understanding why government-run health insurance is a good idea. Mostly because you had to wait 3o whole days for your guaranteed government health coverage to kick in.

I feel your pain. Health insurance IS hard. Let me see if I can enlighten you about how health insurance works.

I'm a 41-year-old woman. I have two kids. I'm separated from my husband but he's still on our group health insurance policy. I have a few pre-existing conditions, but hey, by the time you hit 40, who hasn't? Luckily, mine have nothing to do with a shitty heart, ongoing cancer, high cholesterol, or any of those bad things that often require expensive treatment or drugs. In the big scheme of things, the only bad thing about them is that they do require treatment at all.

I left my job in April and am now enjoying a thriving freelance career. If business keeps going as is, and I keep working this hard, I'll be matching the salary I made at my old job. But of course, there's no subsidized health insurance.

We pay COBRA through my old employer. We pay $1450.34 a month. That's right. EVERY MONTH.

Why on earth would anyone do that? Well, here's why.

In a quest for even slightly cheaper health insurance, I just applied for individual health coverage. As part of that coverage, my kids could be added to my policy for a slightly higher premium. My husband, who has enough pre-existing conditions and expensive prescriptions that an underwriter can't possibly stamp HELL NO on his application fast enough, qualifies to be insured under Colorado's high-risk insurance pool. It's fairly reasonably priced and actually, the coverage is not that bad. If I were to be accepted for individual coverage by a provider, at the very worst our combined cost would be roughly half of what we currently pay for COBRA.

I submitted applications, answered hours of questions, facilitated the gathering of medical records, pieced together documents from 11 years and two cities, let the insurance company take a chunk of money out of my bank account for the first premium. These are all hoops that you have to jump through to even be considered for health insurance. I spent 30 minutes on the phone today tracking down medical records for a doctor that I haven't even seen since 2006, just so they could see evidence that I was 90 percent perfectly healthy during that time.

Let me reiterate: I exercise regularly. I wear sunscreen. My cholesterol, heart rate, and blood pressure are a cardiologist's wet dream. I control any health issues I have proactively with inexpensive medication and regular checkups. I've had exactly one surgery in my life. I have never smoked. I wear a seat belt. I don't eat white flour or refined sugar. I drink in moderation a few times a week. I have regular well-visit checkups. I've never had an abnormal pap smear. The last serious health issue I had was a one-time deal, 11 years ago, well past your statute of uninsurability. I have no allergies. I've never had a cavity.

And today, I was declined for health insurance. Why? Because of one pesky condition that requires (again, INEXPENSIVE) prescription treatment. Once again, people who control their health issues so they don't turn into bigger health issues get reamed.

Consequently, my perfectly healthy kids were declined for health insurance, too.

I'm eligible for the high-risk pool now. Which is good news. But here's the thing: I can't insure my kids. Because there is no rider in the high-risk pool for kids. And in response to the recent health care reform that went into effect, insurance companies would rather not insure kids at all, rather than being forced to ensure kids despite pre-existing conditions. Which, I repeat, my kids don't have.

So what are my options? Well, I could keep applying and applying for individual coverage, which is kind of like applying to get kicked in the nuts repeatedly. I could boot my husband off of COBRA and he could do Cover Colorado for a microscopically slightly cheaper total monthly cost. Always good for maintaining amicable relationships, and financial savings really doesn't balance out that cost. Or, and this is most likely what we'll do, we can stay on COBRA as-is. Which goes up next year to $1522.86. Of course, that will run out in a year or so. But then, I can always just give up my flexible, lucrative, satisfying freelance career and get a shit job so we can have the health coverage. LIVIN' THE DREAM, man.

Anyway, my little doctor Republican Congressman friend, THAT is how motherfuckin' health coverage works. Really, what's not to love? If you need me, I'm moving to Sweden.

Try not to catch a cold in the next 30 days.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pulverizing the hand that feeds you

Am I the only one out there who is irrationally afraid that when I stick my hand down a garbage disposal that's in off-mode, it's going to suddenly turn itself on, Amityville-style, and grind my hand into dog scraps?

I am? Okay, never mind then.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Roadrunner: For mature audiences only

PG? Give me a fucking break!

I took the kids to the movies last night. I was expecting to only get some popcorn and a crappy feature film out of the bargain, but we were treated to something extra: a short cartoon beforehand and the knowledge that people have really lost their minds.

In good news, they've once again started showing Looney Toons shorts before the real movie. That's cool. But get this: after the trailers, they flashed onscreen that the next feature was rated PG. Okay, I thought. I get that. Cats and Dogs, could be a few mature themes about abandonment and dogs and cats living together that may cause kids to ask questions.

But then what followed was....a Roadrunner cartoon. And not even a particularly violent one. The coyote ran into some rocks, got run over by a few trucks, tried and failed to bungee down to the roadrunner as he ate some birdseed. The content was less offensive than your average Spongebob cartoon by a factor of 10.

Allow me to observe: you have GOT to be fucking kidding me. We are putting parental labels on ROADRUNNER CARTOONS now? Apparently I am supposed to sit down with my children before and after the cartoon and have a serious discussion about how you can't actually be slingshotted into a red rock by a semi-truck while a four-foot purple bird watches. Because you know, kids are MORONS.

When I was a kid, I watched approximately 23 hours of Looney Tunes cartoons a day. Yosemite Sam got his face blown off, Tweety got eaten, and let's not even go into the tragic hunting accidents and the fact that Elmer Fudd really needed to find another way to get food. I don't recall ever feeling the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder, or the need for grief counseling. And I'd say that despite constant viewing of cartoon violence, I'm only a mild sociopath today.

In contrast, after the movie, I was putting Tea to bed and read her Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. Now THAT'S a fucked-up story. Fear of being eaten by a lion, helplessness of being stuck as a rock and the nihilism of sitting motionless and dumb forever, the grief and pain of suddenly losing your only child, talk about mature themes. Yet that was one of my favorite kid books of all time. And one of Tea's too. Maybe she's unfazed because it pales in comparison to Barbie and the 12 Dancing Princesses, where an evil dutchess is slowly poisoning the king while she psychologically abuses Barbie and her 11 sisters. Yeowch. And fairy tales, and mythology, blah blah blah. It's all there. But they're not afraid.

You know what I was afraid of as a kid? Assholes, that's what. And my grandparents' dank dark basement with the creepy jumping bugs. And the idea that someone could push a button and launch missiles and blow us all to smithereens. Real stuff that could actually affect me.

So thanks for the warning, MPAA. If my kids decide to order a rocket pack from Acme and some birdseed and move to Arizona, I'll be sure to have The Talk. But until then I'll give them a little credit that they can distinguish between real life and Looney Tunes.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

More Dumb Fun on the YouTubes

I'm not sayin' YOU are batshit stupid for blindly running out and buying the iPhone 4. Or maybe I am. At any rate, this is pretty fucking funny.

There's a rebuttal, too (there are actually a ton of these things out there, I think incongruous, foul-mouthed Xtra Normal movies may be the Hitler meme of the new decade). But it's not as funny.

Once you get done cursing the crap wireless or exercising the Phone Death Grip or whatever it is you iPhone 4 users do, check it out.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Indiana--finally trendy

Go Big Red

You can't swing a bunch of heirloom beets these days without hitting a site, a blog, an article or an advocacy group dedicated to the joys of locally grown, organic food. It's exhausting. I mean, who doesn't love tasty vegetables that you know are the product of some kindly farmer's hard work and emotional investment. There's something about buying your vegetables at a market stand from the folks who grew them that makes them taste better than the ones you rescue from under the fake thunderstorm in the Safeway produce aisle.

But a trip to the San Francisco Ferry Plaza market or the Boulder Farmer's Market is a journey through Pretentiousville. The self-righteous yuppies, hippies, and hipsters, oy. The prices, double oy. It's enough to make you want to tackle Alice Waters and beat her to death with Michael Pollan. Love-hate doesn't even begin to describe my relationship with the upscale town farmer's market.

But this weekend I went back to my roots. Literally. I was back home (again) in Indiana and realized something. For the first time in like, EVER, Indiana is cool. The buzz is all about locally grown, community supported, sustainable agriculture and the whole country is trying to make it happen. And this is where it all started. In terms of food, everyone wants to be Indiana.

I walked through my hometown farmer's market and thought, now THIS is a freakin' farmer's market. People grow stuff and sell it here not because it's trendy, and not because it's correct--it's because people GROW SHIT here. They always have. And they can't help it--whatever you stick in the ground here is gonna grow knee-high by July and yield a bumper crop of goodness. There are tables and tables of juicy beefsteak tomatoes, giant roasting ears of corn, pints full of shiny wild blackberries, and let's not even talk about the homemade cheese, beans, zucchini, oh my god I have to go lie down. And you know who is selling them? AMISH PEOPLE, that's who. I defy you to think of anything more realz than homegrown produce sold by Amish ladies.

And everything costs like three dollars. BAM!

No one dogs their home state more than I do (I mean come on), but I have to admit there's a certain satisfaction to watching upscale people pour lots of time, effort, money and activism into trying to live and eat like my peeps have for a couple hundred years. I mean, both of my parents grew up raising chickens and growing backyard vegetables--mostly because if they didn't, they'd fucking starve. And I've taken it for granted for so long. Well, Indiana, I have to give this round to you. Keep on growing, and show the rest of the country what REAL tomatoes and sweet corn taste like.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Knock it off

Every ad concept has its day. As a writer in the advertising and marketing bidness and a viewer of stuff, I'm here to say this: All those ads where people say or email or tweet something, only to have a truck show up at their door and transform their lives with product/money/conversion to the Right Side of consumer preference? Their day was some overcast Wednesday in the late 70s, when Ed McMahon still had a pulse and wasn't broke.

And yet we got two guys in a van ignoring the NO SOLICITORS sign from several agencies who can (and have) done better. This year CB+P did it with Domino's:

And then Wheat Thins came along, courtesy of Escape Pod:

I just spent some time checking out the advertising winners at Cannes. I gotta say, there is a bunch of cool stuff out there. But this concept? Not it. Not new, and never really that interesting in the first place. But wait, you say! It works! And this time it's different! Because we incorporate The Twitters! And skywriters! Um, yeah.

Plus, can anyone really top Publisher's Clearing House pulling up in the good times van with a giant million-dollar check for housewives all over mid-America? Never! Don't even try! I mean, I'm sure Claudia is happy to know that Domino's sucks marginally less now and Tabitha is now tiling her bathroom with Wheat Thins, but compared to a million bucks and some flowers from a marginal celebrity? Uh-unh.

Sometimes it does work. When Conan O'Brien picked one ordinary person to follow on Twitter, that was fairly awesome as a one-off. The only other way I've seen this done cleverly in recent times is this year's season's greeting from Mother, a smaller agency in London, New York, and a few other cool places. Basically, they played Nigerian prince for a day and sent out an email to their clients, partners and other supporters saying they were giving away $10,000 to one person. All that person had to do was respond with three bits of information--including, yes, their banking details. One guy answered. Then stuff happened. It's all here:

Yeah, maybe it's about as real as my hair color. But, like my hair color, it's bright and it makes me happy. And whether real or bogus, someone deserving gets 10 grand. That's always real.

But in general? Park the van, stop knocking and find a new schtick.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

That's Entertainment

One of the things I love about Funemployment is being able to hang out more with my kids. After having to basically ignore them for 6-12 months for the sake of my stoopid job, I figured that when I quit, my kids deserved something for the pain. So I vowed to take each of them away for a week, just me and them. A few weeks ago, I took my 5-year-old daughter to live it up in NYC for a week. My daughter came out of the birth canal with jazz hands--as you can only imagine, her natural reaction to the Big Apple was, "I WANT TO LIVE HERE. NOW." It was a fabulous trip for all involved. I have many good friends in NY, most of them with daughters around the same age. It was a time of pink dresses, good coffee, great bagels, and BFFs.

My son is 9, and a little more discriminating. I told him he could pick anywhere he wanted to go. His choice? Seattle. Why? I'm not really sure. Something to do with the Space Needle. And iCarly. And the Monorail that only goes about 1 mile, then turns around and comes back. But who am I to argue with a trip to a gorgeous place with delicious food, awesome wine and nice people, whose fatal flaw is that it rains ALL THE FUCKING TIME? I'm game.

We are on day 4 of the trip and it's been great. I tried to hit all of the tourist destinations in the first few days, and now we're working on the more fun stuff, like meandering around neighborhoods, poking around in weird stores and today's adventure, taking the ferry to nowhere in particular and then back again. In other words, stuff that I like. I think it has been a resounding success. Evidence? Tonights dinner.

We were tired, so we went to the place across the street from our hotel. Which happens to be an AMAZING restaurant, I think one of the better ones in the city. Fortunately, it has a counter, so we were able to sneak in for dinner. The food was awesome, but the conversation was even better. I know this because about a third of the way through our dinner, a lone gentleman, a sort of Wallace Shawn-looking dapper dude, sat down next to me and G. I took note of his presence and then we resumed our conversational path, which wound its way from:

--The world's most expensive toilet and why one would really NEED a 24K gold commode in the first place, to:

--What would happen to someone in the U.S. who was in possession of Illegal Cheese, to:

--Whether or not Ernest Hemingway's six-toed cats would be any better at getting open a slice of Kraft Singles than your average cat:

--And so on.

At this point I happened to look up at our neighbor, and he was: LAUGHING. HIS. ASS. OFF. at us. And I was overjoyed that someone else was as entertained by our conversation as I was. We love to provide amusement to the solo diners of the world with our extreme inanity. But more so, I feel so privileged that I get to have these kinds of stupid conversations EVERY DAY. And I wouldn't have it any other way. And I will miss them when my kid is too cool to hang out with me in a decent restaurant, and would rather hang out with the dudes we've seen skating and smoking in Pioneer Square than with me.

These are the things I treasure most about not working. They are priceless. And I will miss them when (if) I am gainfully employed again. Which I both hope and don't hope happens soon.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

A Few Comments About Spam

Imagine you're me. No, really, it's going to be okay. Imagine you're me, and you check your email and see that someone has commented on your blog. Hooray! Someone actually reads this! Someone reads it for more than .5 seconds! What could they possibly have to say?

And then you click on the comment e-mail and see that Mr. or Ms. Anonymous has left a little gem on your blog about their new product, or internet service, or some brand new super awesome porn that you have just GOT to see. In other words, the spammers are taking over blog comments. Either that, or my ramblings are very, very popular with porn peddlers who just like to stop by and say "Hi!"

Hey! Assholes! I hate spam--in e-mail, on the phone, in real life, and ESPECIALLY in blog comments. Do I head over to your blog or site where you're trying to sell nekkid boobie pictures or increase someone's dick size and leave comments about my kids or my dead dog or my business trips? NO I DO NOT. SO CUT. IT. OUT. (Yes, I realize I am yelling at bots. But the kids are at school and you have to yell at something.)

Admittedly, even *I* don't show up on my blog all that much. So imagine my joy today when I saw a little tab called "Comment Moderation" on Blogger. Goodbye, anonymous posters! Hello,
word verification! Suck it, spammers! May this blog soon get back to normal, where real, flesh-and-blood people are busy ignoring it. I can't wait.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Keep America Safe

I was in New York last week. While I was there, I witnessed something frightening. Something unsafe. Something that threatens the American way of life. I'm not talking about this:

Which also did happen while I was there

I'm talking about this:

The three most dangerous words in the English language: ACID WASH JEGGINGS

They're jeggings. They're at Bloomingdales. And they're terrifying.

Jeggings, for the uninitiated or those in denial, are leggings--printed up to look like jeans. That's right. Leggings that look like jeans. HOW LAME IS THAT? You can't just wear skinny jeans that are really stretchy? You have to wear these? What do you pair them with? One of those shirts that's printed with a tuxedo? I mean seriously. Who wears this stuff?

I think the designers intended for people like this to wear them:

Based on my informal research, the real buyers look more like this:

But the real bottom line is that NOBODY should be wearing jeggings. They are a danger to society. If you care about America, hell, if you care about the whole world, please don't buy these. Buy a pair of supertight jeans that you need pliers to zip up, and suffer for fashion. Better you than the rest of us.

Monday, April 19, 2010

My day

Today I:

Went for a hike.

Cleaned the house.

Fixed my bike.

Rode my bike.


Ate three balanced meals.


Sat down to dinner with my kids.

Watched half of a movie.

Got my daughter to bed.

Actually learned about what my son is doing in school.

Watched my daughter rehearse for a ballet recital.

Found out there was a ballet recital.

Brought cupcakes to class.

Ate on the patio.

Today I did NOT:


Saturday, April 03, 2010

Thanks for Noticing. FINALLY.

The most e-mailed story on the Times Web site today is about the possible illegality of unpaid "internships." The story posits that more and more companies are using unpaid internships to squeeze free labor out of college students and recent college grads.

To which I have two things to say. First: Doyyyyyyyyyy. And second: What the hell has taken people so long to voice the opinion that this practice is fucked up? I have been saying it for years, 20 in fact, since I graduated from school well prepared for an entry-level job in journalism and had to spend years working for free to prove that I was work risking a $18,000 per year salary on.

People are outraged. There's the whole idea that it's a classist and racist system where the poor and underprivileged don't have the means or the time to fritter away working for free to gain "exposure" at these gigs. (To quote a friend of a friend when he was told such work is good exposure: "You can die from exposure, you know.") Well you know what? That ain't a new development and it has nothing to do with working for free. You think all those publishing houses and magazines that have long paid $14K a year for an edit assistant job are hiring Horatio Alger to work for them? They are self-selecting. Same old same old.

And the more outrageous outrage is this. The article itself goes on to say that well, the journalism field and film have always been known for this kind of exploitation, and it's expected. But now--gasp--REAL industries are doing it, and it's JUST WRONG. Trudy Steinfeld, director of N.Y.U.'s office of career services, says, “A few famous banks have called and said, ‘We’d like to do this.’ ”

“I said, ‘No way. You will not list on this campus.’ ”

Hey Trudy! So it's okay for people to bust their asses preparing themselves for writing or film careers and work for free, but for aspiring BANKERS, that's just wrong? Sorry, but fuck that. Work is work. Whether it's crunching numbers in a quant job or writing captions or sharpening pencils. And if work is being done, fork it over. And college counselors and placement officers, if you're going to protect one group, protect them all. Remember when you worked for free? Oh, that's right, you probably DIDN'T.

I did. This whole story takes me back to the good old days right after college, when I myself had the pleasure of feeling fucked-over and exploited by not one, but TWO different magazines. I'll say this--no, it's not okay to hire someone for an internship and make them clean the bathroom. But it's equally not cool to hire someone for an "internship" when they're actually doing the work equivalent to that of a full-time staffed fact-checker, or a salaried assistant editor. And that's what I did.

At my first "job" out of college, for a small, independent city magazine, I wrote stories, copy-edited pieces, did research for the on-staff editors, delivered magazines, and put up with mistreatment from a bat-shit crazy publisher and a narcissistic senior editor who mistakenly thought she had more talent than anyone else who worked there. I delivered an ultimatum that I wanted to get paid, and when that didn't pan out, I went to my second job, at a national magazine owned by a huge, huge media conglomerate (whose name rhymes with "rhyme") who gave me a fact-checking job and a raise to a whopping $25 a week. That was an interesting job, but I was not learning, I was "doing"--the same thing as the two staff fact-checkers.

I did my job so well that I was fact-checking complicated political stories and stories on the L.A. riots, and I actually caught a plagiarist among the writers (for those keeping score, Plagiarist: $1 a word, several hundred words a month. Me: $25 a week.) For my hard work, I was given a second three-month tour of duty and a raise to $75 a week--and an opportunity to apply for a staff position when one came open. Did I get it? No. It went to another deserving candidate who had been working as an intern for a paltry sum...for at least nine months. What I did get was a thank you and an invitation to keep working for another couple of cycles until another staff job came up. What I gave was a hearty "Up Yours" as I made other--paying--arrangements, aka working at the mall. Go, me.

You might say, well, I had free will. Why did I take these jobs? Eleven percent unemployment, that's why. And a desire to work in publishing. I did get a paying editorial job, by the way--after I took a few years off to walk the earth and waited for the economy to improve. (Another option not really available to the truly poor and struggling of the world).

I'll leave you with one more sad cautionary tale, one brought about by my own desire to stop getting butt-fucked by the magazine industry. As I was leaving the second magazine, one of the senior editors took pity on me and said he knew of another magazine starting up in the city--one run by smart people, that sounded really interesting, and they were looking for people. He gave me the name of the magazine and the phone number of his friend, who I called the next day. He called me back and we chatted about the job--an internship that would possibly turn into a full-time position as the magazine grew. The work was exciting, great exposure and they could afford to pay $100 a month. I had heard that song before, I was tired of it, so I said no.

The magazine? Wired. The journalism equivalent of saying, "Hey Larry and Sergey, this Google idea sounds great, but don't we already have ENOUGH search engines out there?"

Would I have become employee number [single digit] at one of the most influential magazines of the past 30 years? Or would I have cycled through and OD'ed on top ramen and gotten a job at the mall anyway? I dunno. But it sure would be nice, now that the Times has NOTICED and all, if companies would put an end to short-changing young aspiring whatevers--and keep them from short-changing themselves by thinking that that next Wired job or Google job is not just yet another opportunity for someone with more power than them to get something for nothing.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Not-so-good Friday

The best of all possible dogs. 1998-2010.

I hope your Friday was good. Because mine sucked. I lost my best friend. And I mean that seriously, not in the Precious Moments bullshit sense of the word. I had to make the call to end the life of my beloved dog. But it was the right thing to do. It was time.

I meant to update here this past week, but things happened faster than my fingers could type. First the hospitalization. Then the surgery. Then the survival. Then the complications. Then more survival. Then the downslide. Then the decision. It happened during a week. But it was a helluva week. And it was just me and him.

Bottom line? Pancreatitis. It's a horrible, horrible disease. Don't ever get it. Don't let your pets get it, if you can help it. Vito fought and fought to get past the pancreatic inflammation, the shutdown of the intestines, the bacteria that wanted to creep into his liver. And for a while it looked like he was winning. But it was too much. He held on for Rick and the kids to get back into town, so they could have a few great, love-filled visits. And that was all he had.

Today, the doctor called me with news that his body was fighting new infection. And that his pancreas was rearing its nasty self again. And that his gallbladder was not picking up the slack from the biliary drainage tube they pulled. We could have done surgery to put in a feeding tube that bypassed the pancreas. We could have seen how that would have done. We could have kept him alive. But I have been with him every day for the past two weeks. I have seen him suffer, and I have made decisions that I thought were positive and that would prolong his life. This was not one of those decisions. So we decided to let him go. It was time. He was ready.

So we went up today and said our goodbyes. I told him what a special dog he was and what a privilege it was to know him. And how I wanted only what was best for him and that I thought it was time he was at peace. Everything in his body language and his eyes agreed with me.

I could not be with him for the final moments. I could not watch him die. He died in Rick's arms, outside, under a nice big tree. He felt no pain. He had no agitated moments. He just went. I had one more moment with him after he was gone, to say goodbye. To say, I love you little one. You were my firstborn. Go in peace. I closed his eyes. And it was over.

Vito was a superlative dog. He has received love, and is receiving it now, from around the world, from the hospital, from Boulder, from his family in San Francisco, from everyone who ever touched him. And that is what life is about. The people you touch and the joy that you spread. And Vito gets an A plus for that.

Godspeed, little puppyhead. I love you. Forever.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

In dog we trust

I'm hanging here on the couch tonight. I've got my computer, my blanket, my glass of wine, and I'm watching the snow dump from the sky. It's comfortable, I won't lie. But I'm missing the special little something that keeps my feet warm. Vito isn't here.

Those of you who know our dog, Vito Polito, know that he is the best fucking dog who ever lived. And that is an unbiased statement. He really is that good. Vito is up in Fort Collins tonight at the CSU veterinary hospital, resting comfortably. In the past week, he has been not so fresh. He hasn't been eating. He doesn't feel like walking, even in 60-degree weather with squirrels running amok in our 'hood. He doesn't even lift his head for human food. In other words, he has been: not himself. The vet isolated his issues to his liver and gall bladder, so we've sent him up to Fort Collins for further observation and possible gall bladder surgery tomorrow.

I've watched Vito this week and I've seen the looks on the doctors' faces. This is not "sometimes dogs just puke." It's not "oops, Vito didn't chew that burrito enough before stuffing the whole thing down his piehole." This is pretty serious. As in, elevated liver functions. As in, surgery with risk. As in, he's 12 years old. As in, please peruse this "do not resuscitate" document before we proceed.

Does that mean this is the end? No--he may be fine, hopefully he will be fine. But this is the first time I've actually seen the end for Vito come out of the distance, and that. is. scary.

There are dogs in this world who live a life of great privilege--sleeping in beds that are replicas of their owner's beds, dressing better than I do, eating lovingly prepared organic meals every night. Vito is not one of those dogs. He is not a child substitute. I have two children who make perfectly good child substitutes. He is my dog. But he is an amazing dog. And he is the first living being other than myself that I ever vowed to take care of through good times and bad, for a lifetime.

So I'll be driving back up to Fort Collins tomorrow in the snow to be in the waiting room when he wakes up. I'll be shaking the cash loose from my savings to do whatever it takes to keep him around. As a dog, as a companion, as a foot warmer, he is so worth it. I want there to be another day when I take for granted his little body burrowed under the covers. Another morning at 6 a.m. when I get to think, "oh for god's sake SHUT THE FUCK UP and let me sleep."

As I hear news, I will post updates. But for now, he is resting comfortably and there is nothing new. And my feet are cold.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

On the Bright Side...

I could get used to this

There are so few real advantages to recuperating from knee surgery, but there are some silver linings. The drugs, for one thing. It's also a free pass to sit on the couch and watch movies all day. And you can also burst into tears and have a good cry and people will blame it on the fatigue or the stress and not the fact that you're, y'know, a FROOTBAT. But the best perk of all is the one that's small and red and hangs from my rearview mirror. Yes, I'm talking about the joy of the Temporary Handicap Placard.

Of course, to get a Temporary Handicap Placard, one does have to be Temporarily Handicapped. And that's kind of a bummer. But I have to admit there is kind of a thrill going to the museum on a Saturday or to a jam-packed mall and being like, " 'scuse ME, bitches," as I pull into the front row. It's been nice. And the Pepsi Center? CANNOT WAIT. Only Melo has a better spot.

My husband is disgusted with me. He thinks that anything less than paraplegia means you should suck it up and hoof it. To that I say, hey, Joan of Arc, when someone cuts open YOUR knee and pulls out half of YOUR hamstring to tie it all together, you can hobble to and from the back lot at Costco all you want. But while I try to balance parenthood and recuperation, while I have to settle for a 1-degree improvement in my range of motion and the reappearance of my shinbone in my leg as major causes for celebration, I'm going to enjoy my status as a member of the handicap row. You gotta take what you can get.