Coolidge, May 5, 2003 – January 16, 2017

Coolidge.

 

When we got home, he did not greet us at the door with the crusty honey badger toy in his mouth. He didn’t report on the Mongol hordes he chased from the back fence. He didn’t open the pantry door with his smart nose, nudging us with his old-man mutterings toward the Milk Bones.

When we got home, he wasn’t there.

We have a 113-pound hole in our house and our hearts where Coolidge used to live.

Last night when I woke up at 1:40 in the morning, I walked unimpeded in darkness to the bathroom. This morning, when I made coffee, I traversed a hallway free of the old-man turdlettes and tinkles that didn’t quite make it out the dog door. These are now conveniences, but not comforts.

Every dog is good in its own way. Every dog is the best there ever was to their own humans. We have had great dogs before. We still have one by our side, but there will never be another Coolidge.

I will remember him thundering down the stretch of side yard to unleash his fearsome fury on those insidious parents pulling their toddlers in red wagons, threatening our very existence with their need to walk on the sidewalk. I will miss the jowl-flapping relish with which he destroyed his kibble… and his Milk Bones… and Winslow’s Milk Bones. I won’t be able to open a bag of baby carrots without remembering that curious nose at my hip and the necklaces of drool descending to the floor with covetous love. I will always smile at how he ran laps around the dog park, unconcerned about the butt-sniffing and back-biting of the others: He just loved to run.

He was a Viking of a dog, pillaging and plundering every nook of our yard and every treat in our hands. He lived his life big.

I loved him rubbing his face between the couch cushions; studying the front-yard litter of mesquite beans to find just the right afternoon snack; unleashing great, satisfied burps at the conclusion of his epic bone-chewing adventures, and sighing his great contentment at being the G.O.A.T. of dogs.

His list of accomplishments was many: Catching a quail on the wing at the tender age of 2. Snatching a squirrel from the yard at the august age of 13.Recreating a crime scene in our own backyard. Putting all sorts of baby rabbits, turds, dead birds, shoes and sticks in his mouth, and offering this frankincense and myrrh to us as grateful gifts for the rich life he lived.

He jumped on top of tables, terrified Jehovah’s Witnesses, bodysurfed in Malibu, outran a dirt bike, chewed the step off our deck and loved us and Winslow completely.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a life expectancy of 10 or 11. At 13-and-a-half, Coolidge well outlived his warranty. We are grateful for the time he gave us, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

Coolidge.

 

A Modesty Proposal

imagesNorth Carolina now requires schools and public agencies to have gender-segregated bathrooms. Importantly, the state is requiring said agencies to police their own potties to prevent people from visiting bathrooms that do not correspond to their biological sex. This presents a few problems:

  • Will people with gonadal mosaicism have to report to the supervisor at the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles to ask which potty to use?
  • What happens to desperate women at crowded Tar Heels games? (Admit it, you’ve thought about it, even if you haven’t done it.)
  • What about Dads whose daughters really need to go pee-pee while they are waiting in line at the Department of Revenue – and there is no family loo?
  • What about small state offices that have only one restroom, where employees have managed for years to go about their business without getting in each other’s business?

Besides being yet another GOP-run state that seems to believe the concept of “Small Government” is one that is defined as being small enough to fit in your bedroom and my vagina, North Carolina is just plain mean. Let’s be honest: This law targets transgender people for no other reason than the fact that they were born differently from what certain North Carolinian legislators (and their out-of-state legislation sponsors) believe is normal. A couple hundred years ago, these same legislators likely would have burned disabled people at the stake for witchcraft or tried to exorcise their epilepsy. Oh wait, they still do that.

Many thoughtful corporate leaders and elected officials – shout-out to PayPal and the state of New York – are leading economic protests to punish North Carolina for its transgender toileting transgressions. Money talks, assholes walk.

I believe we private citizens can also let our voices be heard through peaceful protest:

A Modest(y) Proposal: The Shit-In

  1. Eat a hearty meal of broccoli, bananas, sugar free Jelly Bellies (don’t ask how I know this), prunes, more bananas, bran, rice, pinto beans and oranges. Wash down with a hot tankard of coffee.
  2. Fill up on gas (the kind you put in your car).
  3. Drive to the North Carolina Legislative Building from Virginia (~90 miles via South Hill), South Carolina (~120 miles via Cheraw) or Georgia (You’re gonna need a hybrid vehicle and extra cans of gas ~340 miles via Lavonia – and you may want to stop for your pre-game meal in South Carolina) but not do not drive from Tennessee: They are considering a similar bill. Remember, you do not want to leave any economic residue in North Carolina, only organic material.
  4. Go to your non-biologically assigned toilet. Enter a stall. Do that thing that you doo-doo so well. Wipe. FLUSH. (Remember, we are punishing the legislature, not the innocent janitors who probably don’t earn a living wage – keep it tidy)
  5. Wash your hands.
  6. Snap a selfie outside the non-biologically assigned bathroom. Post to the social media account of your choosing. #shitin #modestyproposal #giveashit
  7. Drive back to your state of origin.
  8. Feel happy (and 10 pounds lighter) because you have taken a nonviolent stand, or in this case, sit, against hate, intolerance and intrusive legislators inflicting their own small-minded personal beliefs on science. You have given a shit about your fellow transman/transwoman/transgender person.
  9. Oh, and to the assholes at Alliance for Defending Freedom who craft this “model” legislation and shop it to small-minded elected officials near you: If you really believe in small government, stay out of my bathroom and I’ll stay out of yours.

Now pardon me, I gotta go eat some kale.

This Broke My Heart

“Do you want to play our science game?”

The girl, maybe about 8 or 9, wandered up to my table at the Arizona Science Center. I volunteered to help out at Bioscience Day on behalf of my employer. I’m the marketing director, which uniquely qualifies me to guide a lesson designed for grade-schoolers.

“I … I don’t know … much about science.” She eyed the colored marbles, gathered in the baggies, arrayed across the table.

“It’s a game. You have to figure out which one is different,” I offered, hoping to overcome her shyness. A woman loomed behind her, encouraging her to go on and play.

“I don’t know anything,” the girl said. “I’m not smart.”

The Science Center education manager dove in where my words failed: “We can figure it out together. This is a puzzle, and I know you can do it. I’ll help you.”

Four Ziploc bags, each filled with colored marbles representing different things we’d find in your blood stream: Red for oxygen-delivering red blood cells. White for infection-fighting white blood cells. Blue for C-Reactive Protein (It’s what makes you feel sleepy when you’re sick – I learned something new!) Green for a mysterious biomarker.

Bag 3 had an overabundance of white and blue marbles, with fewer red ones, along with a handful of greens. Bags 1, 2 and 4 had similar numbers of white and red marbles with fewer blues and no greens. Guess which one was sick?

“I can’t do it. I don’t know anything.”

“We’re doing it together. Let’s count the marbles together in each bag.”

The education manager’s white lab coat doubled as a super hero cape. She guided the girl through counting the marbles in each bag.

“Now which one is different than the others?” The girl pointed to Bag 3.

“Why is it different?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know anything.”

“You said it was different, and something about it made you think that. What was it?”

She pointed to the green marbles.

“Good job! Is there anything else that’s different about this bag?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know much.”

“But you figured out the right answer,” we said in unison. “You can figure this out.”

She looked at the bag. She looked at the woman behind her. She looked at the floor. She pointed to the white marbles.

“Good job! You did it!”

I stamped the little girl’s Bioscience passport and handed it to her with a smile. I mentioned we also had a painting project and asked if she liked art.

“I don’t know. I’m not good. I don’t know anything.”

“Well, you can try – just like you did here. Have fun today.”

The woman led her into the bowels of the Center – literally the bowels, they have a giant crawl-through colon – and left me to stew in my thoughts: Be careful what you say to kids.

I suspect the woman who brought her to the Science Center was not the person who told her she didn’t know anything. She tried to encourage the girl, best she could. At 8 years old, if you don’t believe you know anything, where are you at 18, at 28, at 38?

Be careful what you say to kids.

Circle of Life, Bitches

There is nothing cute about mouse shit in your pantry.

There is nothing sweet about the staccato scrape of their hard little feet in your drywall, rousing you from a dreamless sleep. The fuckers may be fuzzy, but they are neither adorable nor benign. There is a reason they are called pests.

And they must be controlled.

“I think I heard a mouse in the house,” I said to Pat as he wiped the sleep from his eyes and made his way to the kitchen.

“Did you see it?”

“No. Just heard the little tap-tap, and I looked for it, but then it stopped.”

“Probably just the ice in the refrigerator.”

I should have known better than to bring it up before coffee, but I’d been sitting with this invisible interloper for two hours, listening to it rummage through the walls as I shook the curtains, crawled beneath the sink and shined my iPhone flashlight along the dust bunnies haunting our baseboards. The next day, I heard it again and uncovered hard evidence.

“There really is a mouse,” I told Pat. “I looked behind the couch. There’s poop.”

He grunted. It was 6:30.

Days later, I returned home from a holiday happy hour with friends. The whine of our shop-vac greeted me at the door. The closet hung open, disgorging heavy coats and fleece jackets on the dining room floor. In the living room, sofa cushions tumbled across the carpet. The TV and its spaghetti of cables and wires hung out of their nook.

The back door gaped open.

“I saw that mouse,” Pat said. “Sumbitch jumped out of the coat closet and ran right between Coolidge’s legs!”

Coolidge, our 117-pound Rhodesian Ridgeback, was nonplussed. His sidekick Winslow, the vicious pitbull, cowered in the kitchen. The game was afoot: Pat wanted to use the sonic cannon of the shop-vac and the gentle nudging of a broom to encourage the mouse to surrender peacefully and leave through the back door. I wanted to get a shovel.

Instead, we chased it out from under one set of sofa cushions into the pantry then under the refrigerator then across to the dishwasher and behind the stove.

The dogs had long gone to bed.

“I want to call an exterminator.”

“It’s just one mouse.”

“How do you know? There was shit every where we looked. It could be an infestation. I want to bring down a toxic cloud of death on this fucker and all his four-legged friends. I want him and all his kind to think twice before they ever cross our threshold again.”

“I’ll get some humane traps and take care of it.”

The humane traps were set underneath the sink. The next day, a daisy-chain of turds surrounded it. Pat asked me to give it a little more time before I called in air support.

A week later, my birthday arrived, and Pat gave me the greatest gift of all.

The motherfucking circle of life, bitches.

The bird is a kestrel falcon and it rains holy terror from the skies in the most joyous and beautiful illustration of predation I’ve ever witnessed. Take that, mouse, and enjoy your delicious treat, falcon. You and your kind are welcome at our house any time.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving: The Sugar Sak

 

Who knows what evil lurks inside this Sak of Sugar?
Who knows what evil lurks inside this Sak of Sugar?

Last Sunday morning, Winslow interrupted our leisurely walk by following her nose into a black, satiny mass that was hiding under a bush.

“What the hell?” Pat said, straining to keep Coolidge from lifting his leg on the mystery object.

“Looks like someone’s panties,” I said, pulling Winslow aside to gingerly pick up the litter. “No, wait. It looks more like a wine bag – like you’d give as a gift.”

I pulled the black satin bag from the prickles and thorns. The interior was a jaunty black-and-white leopard print. Fastened with a satin drawstring with bejeweled ends, its tag read, Sugar Sak™: Protected with Bioshield 75®.

“Bioshield 75®? What would you put in there that needs Bioshield 75®?” Pat asked.

“Maybe it’s a bag to carry your panties? Like on the walk of shame?”

Then I wondered why the bottom of one’s purse wasn’t a suitable vessel? I mean, it’s not like you’re gonna wear them again before putting them in the laundry.

“Wait, there’s something inside,” he said. “Oh… it’s actual panties. There are panties inside.”

Continue reading The Gift that Keeps on Giving: The Sugar Sak