As part of that non-work, non-home, non-PTA poo I previously referenced, I’m knee-deep in documents: big documents, little documents, documents that climb on rocks. Documents that must be scanned, annotated, pdf’d, and emailed. As a result of this — which, I must note, has lasted four weeks now and shows zero signs of letting up — I have learned many things:

1. People who have presumably gone through enough college to acquire a JD are still susceptible to amazingly huge gaffes in grammar, logic, and facts. This is not my person, but someone else’s person, and the fact that this person makes as much as he does makes me weep for the MFA’s of the world. Those sorts of leaps of logic/creative spellings should reside firmly with unicorns, fairies, and unpronounceable pseudo-worlds.

2. My boyfriend’s bulimic cat can immediately sense these, and will puke in disgust (I’d totally join her, but the carpet cleaner couldn’t handle it).

3. The household HP Scanner will lovingly scan each document as an INDIVIDUAL jpeg, to be hand-converted to pdf, and oh you have to rotate them 180 degrees (sure, you could try to feed your documents 180 degrees differently — and discover the HP Scanner then becomes bulimic of its own accord).

4. There is no easy (read: free) software for annotation, so I must send my [descriptive noun redacted] a detailed, bulleted email about the scanned documents. She loves this (at slightly under $300 an hour), but it goes against my norm of power-point “SmartArt”, and I end up involuntarily twitching.

5. The household Scanner is not on the network (still), and so I must do the weird braille method of re-attaching its USB connection to the male person’s machine.

6. Waiting for the aforementioned household scanner will cause you to read your Facebook feed with more interest than you have had in a few weeks, and you will therefore discover Wil Wheaton Collating, making your mind both euphoric and in danger of its own personal Warp Core Breach.

7. All of those people? Who you kinda told but didn’t really about the poo, and the stress, and the non-eating-sleeping-and-general-bowel-dysfunction (oh, wait, TMI)? They totally meant it when they said they were pulling for you, as evidenced by the forty-two customized email messages through various media inquiring as to status of poo and whether poo was in fact, gone.

For the record:

The poo is kinda gone…the stench lingers… and after October 19th I’ll officially hope the fan has kicked in. Really could’ve used a courtesy flush, but it didn’t happen.

In other news, it’s 16 days to my birthday, can I get a pony?

A Good Dog

My dog died Thursday night. It wasn’t like I expected.

Let me explain:

My second *real* job (after Dairy Queen) was working in a vet clinic. On the first day of work, a man came in with a shiny, happy black lab, who was to be put down. On the last day of work, a little boy came in with a shoebox with his dead pet rabbit.

In my time at that job, I was present at the euthanasia of probably 100 pets. I had to do other horrible things, too (have you ever given a cat an enema? Do you know that their claws can go through leather gloves?). It was the smelliest, messiest, and emotionally hardest job I ever had. Whenever I’m in a job I think is miserable (no, not my current one) I remember that one.

So I know what to expect clinically when it is time. I know, logically, that when an animal refuses food over a period of days it is ready to go. I know that as cancer spreads and ravages the body, that internal bleeding is likely, that organs will shut down. I know this is painful and I know that dogs especially will put a bright face on it for as long as they absolutely can.

I didn’t know it from the dog owner perspective until Thursday. Thursday morning I left for work and she was placidly chewing a new tennis ball (favorite past time) and had eyed her food (she hadn’t eaten for a day but I put bacon in there and she was smelling it). Thursday afternoon I came home and she didn’t get up. She looked at me, but didn’t get up. She didn’t want her ball. She didn’t eat anything. She refused raw steak. And so I called the vet, and they had me check her gums, and I knew it was bad and they confirmed it.

Here is the thing about your dog (or cat, or beloved pet of any kind) dying: you don’t get to choose. No matter how prepared you think you are, no matter how long you have known this day would come (she was diagnosed seven months ago), you are not ready when it does. You always think you have a few more days. After it happens, you feel guilt: you should have taken her to the park more. You should have gone on more walks. You should have played rope more. If only you knew it was going to be *that* day, you would have made everything leading up to it perfect.

Then you start to see them everywhere, and nowhere. You come home and the house is cold and there is no one to greet you. You go to shower and there is no large malamute laying across the bathmat. There is no hopeful person in the kitchen on the offchance you were going to cook bacon and she’d totally pick up anything you “accidentally” dropped. There is no sound of the dog door slapping against its sides as she goes in and out. There’s no pawprints on your floor, there are no dog toys mangled beyond recognition in various corners. You leave the house and there is no one to say goodbye to. You see other dogs and you think, “mine was so much better”. You look up your street and remember that you don’t get to go for walks anymore, you see the stash of “dog bags” for those walks and remind yourself you should donate those.

You avoid certain aisles at Target and Safeway. You can’t avoid them at Trader Joes, because it isn’t a whole aisle, but you do your damnedest not to look.

When you’re away from home for a long stretch, you remind yourself that you don’t have to rush home. Why? There’s no one there anymore. And you feel bad for yourself, and for them.

I don’t know how long this lasts. There’s nothing out there to show or tell you. I do realize death is inevitable and it happens to all of us.

But it’s a bitch.


So, a couple of days ago it was the Day of the Dead.

I’ve always liked Halloween and the DotD, and I’m not really sure why. It’s morose, if you think about it. For someone whose first real, personal experience with death was a classmate killed in Afghanistan — Rest in Peace, Michael Montgomery — it’s odd that I’d groove on a holiday that celebrates that Time After Death.

Disclaimer/NB/FYI: I am not religious. Like really, let’s not even go there. Like the first thing I will do is set up a scientific postulate and attempt to prove it using anything but syllogisms. I totally respect religion, and I’m frankly envious of it in some cases, but I simply don’t have the ability to have faith. It sucks. Just sayin’.

My grandmother died today.

Being, as I am, the child of four parents, I had (appropriately) four grandmothers. I also had four grandfathers. My stepfather’s father died before I ever knew my stepfather, so that doesn’t really come into play. My stepfather’s mother died when I was 20. She stopped sending letters and that’s how we figured it out. My father’s father died a month before I was born, locked in a freezer by accident and then died from pneumonia — I have the original telegram sent. My father’s mother died when I was about 14, and her legacy is amazing cooking and a kitchen that I would love to reproduce in my dream house. Also, a faint smell… I can’t place it yet. Something like old roses and lilac. Everyone has a grandma that has *that* smell and she was it.

My mother’s father died when I was in my early 20’s, a conservative old bastitch who liked deep sea fishing and lived as salty as the sea he fished. My mother’s mother died from emphysema and a distinct distaste for food which I will never understand, probably disappointed that neither I nor my mother became debutantes. Still, she had good Christmases (until I moved to Washington). My stepmother’s father died in March of 2002, I know this because in April of 2002 I found out I was pregnant and conception date tied with the day he died. He was an old-school bastitch of a different kind, an engineer, a showman.

This leaves my stepmom’s mom. The grandparent I’ve had the longest.

Her name was Maria. She was born in Argentina.

She never quite got the handle of the english language — she always spoke a broken sort of english, reserved in privilege for a woman who moved here in her 20’s — was it 30’s? — with her husband and two children (she would have a third, my Uncle Sergio, once ensconced in the States). She cooked like no one else — seriously. As I told my son, if it was Nana and Bobby Flay in the kitchen, Bobby Flay should just get out because he had no place. When my cousin Marisa and I were growing up, she’d make Doll cakes for our birthday — like go get a Barbie, and make an entire dress for the Barbie out of cake. Whatever cake you like. The dresses were intricately decorated — I mean, frosted — and the flavor was amazing.

She made my wedding cake. She grew the Calla Lillies for my wedding bouquet in her garden, and flew them up with her from California for my February wedding.

She made empanadas and fresh pasta and bread that made you want to stuff yourself until your eyeballs popped out. It didn’t matter that she lived 90 minutes away: you’d drive there to get fed. You weren’t allowed to clean up, you were barely allowed to stand, ever. Her bottom-floor bathroom was all pink tile.

It didn’t matter what you did, or what you wanted to do, in your life. She was proud of you. It didn’t matter what sort of pitfalls or challenges you’d encounter. She knew you’d meet them. She had that quiet confidence that a grandma has, that refuses to be refuted, and that will silently quell any sort of fears or nervousness you’d get.

I didn’t visit her once I knew she was going downhill. I’m a coward, I admit it. This woman was so vibrant and outgoing she’d have a million sewing projects going at once, be halfway through reading her bible for the forty-third time (Grandma had holy water in her entryway), and be cooking 8-dozen ravioli for my uncle and his political party cronies. I couldn’t imagine her invalid in any sense. It wasn’t right.

She isn’t anymore.