Dumb dog

I refuse to write an obituary for my dog. Not because she can’t read (her fault) and not because she is still alive (her fault).  It’s because she doesn’t deserve it.

I’ve read (and wept over) countless of lengthy posts, emails, texts from friends and family members memorializing their pets – many of whom I personally gave belly rubs or enthusiastically followed on Instagram – and these dogs and cats were stand-up animals. They fetched items, they shat in pre-determined/pre-agreed-upon places, they followed at least two basic commands, and they were all extremely photogenic.

My dog has accomplished none of these things in 16 years of life.

Her reaction to my singing of Happy Birthday. Please note, the bruise on her neck was caused by the vet who gave her a hickey.

She has peed on my clothes and has hidden poop in my closet. She has woken me up hundreds of times in the middle of the night for no reason and rejected at least 50 dog beds just because. Her hidden talent is to step on the remote to change the channel at exactly the worst time. She is only interested in what I have to say when I have a turkey sandwich in my hand. She made me use up all of my airline miles to rush back home in the middle of Thanksgiving because she showered her sitter with explosive diarrhea. Her breath stinks. Her knees pop out of place and her heart murmurs. And she snores, loudly.

From the moment we met, I knew she was going to be trouble. “She’s not for show,” I was told. Later the vet confirmed, “She’s not good for breeding.” But I didn’t care for any of that. I just wanted to give my girlfriend a dog – the dream dog she always wanted – a hairless Chinese Crested. Only in the process of making that dream come true, I fell truly, madly deeply for this ungrateful Gremlin.

I’m reminded of just how much today, on her sweet, sixteenth birthday (which roughly translates into 106 in dog years). I don’t know if she’s made it this far because of me or in spite of me, but I do know that she has made my life richer in ways I never knew a 6-pound poop-machine could.

She fills my life with beautiful noise, from her feet’s pitter-patter to hearing her bark the entire time it takes me to eat a banana to her long, sustained howl when I walk through the door. And although I know one day we’ll have to say good-bye, I am certain that I will never forget how I could’ve bought a house with all the money I spent on her or how this dumb dog brought incredible joy and boundless love into my life.

Her reaction to this post. She sucks.



Samba pa (Ta)ti

I met him late one night. It was dark and I couldn’t make out much of the details of his face, except for a furrowed brow as he worked under the hood of my Jeep. I offered kind words of thanks, but he acted like he barely heard me. When he was done, he gave his daughter a sweet kiss on the forehead and glared back at me with an I-know-what-your-intentions-are-with-my-little-girl look.

I was mortified, but he wasn’t wrong.

Not too long after, we became fast friends. We had a shared love for boxers, Santana, power tools, and milkshakes. We had so much in common that he began calling me junior. But like my nickname, I was always inferior to his every move. He beat me at Scrabble, at poker, at video games, at the punch line to my own jokes. He beat me at Monopoly, at building shoe racks and at painting walls. He exhausted me and riled me up at the same time. And right when I was ready to ring his neck, he’d look at me with kind eyes and say incredibly tender things like how lucky he was to have two daughters.

He wasn’t wrong, but I was lucky too.

For a little while, I too had two dads. One, clean-shaved cerebral puritan, the other a loud potty-mouth fur ball. One a musician, the other a philosopher. One couldn’t agree to disagree, the other (very literally) built a space for me in his home. But like parallel lines, they were never destined to meet. Until today.

Jose Angel “Tati” Garcia had the most extraordinary heart. Although his doctors would disagree, it was a perfect organ. He loved loosely with it. He felt intensely with it. He fired off quips with it. He, at times, told you to go fuck yourself with it, too. His heart came through his boombox of a laugh and his suffocating bear hugs. His heart came through when he would grant you mercy during a wrestling bout or a tickle fight or while biting your finger for no apparent reason. You would feel his heart skip a beat whenever he was with his wife and his heart burst with pride when he was with his daughter.

Tati was born with a heart defect, sliced open and miraculously saved as a baby. His heart withstood being raised by a single, young mother, while his dad, a political prisoner, rotted in a Castro jail. As a teen, his heart ripped when he was separated from everything he knew and sent to Spain by way of the infamous Peter Pan operation. Then, it was mended when he was reunited with his mother in Miami. Decades later he healed some of those scars when he was reunited with his father. He lived his life taking care of both of them and making sure they had everything they needed.

His heart grew exponentially when he met his match. He knew instantly that this would be the woman he would marry, so he did, quickly, not to waste anymore time. Together they had exactly one baby and became a 3-person unit. At times finishing each other’s sentences and laughing at inside jokes that were so inside a look would be suffice to set them off. He gave up trying to teach his daughter how to play tennis, so he took up learning how to dye her hair. And when it was time for his wife’s office Christmas parties, he was sure to bring his signature John Travolta moves. In every way he could, he spoiled them the only way he knew how – with his love.

He was beloved, not just by his parents and his wife and daughter, but by his co-workers. For many years he worked maintenance for City National Bank. He woke up every day before the sun, put on a blue collar button-down shirt with his name sewn over the left pocket and his navy Dickies. He filled his days not only with the mundane things of his responsibilities, but also with making sure that the entire office had everything they needed. Most of the time that included unsolicited advice. He was the office counselor, psychic, conflict mediator (sometimes creator), gossiper, HR manual expert, and go-to person for a good laugh. He truly was a Jose-of-all-trades.

Tati succumbed to his heart and heart-related injuries very early this morning. He is survived by his mom, his step-dad and his dad, as well as his wife, his daughter and his daughter’s wife. All of whom have the impossible task of going through our remaining days with now only the memory of this incredibly loving man.




I ain’t got no crystal balls

john-edwardI was driving somewhere in the Valley when I saw a billboard with John Edward’s face on it. You know, John Edward. That psychic that had that television show sometime over the last decade. He would assemble people in a room and start calling out random numbers and letters until a person (sucker) in the crowd made sense of his ramblings.

I can’t remember what happened to him. I think he was dogged by some scandal. Something about his ability. I think it started with the letter B and ended in shit.

Or maybe it’s real. What do I know? I’m an atheist that is afraid of ghosts.

That billboard was long behind me, but his name kept swirling in my head, John, Edward, John Edward, until I landed on the spirit of the Democratic Party’s past: John Edwards.

john-edwardsOh my God, John Edwards. He came back to me like an old nursery rhyme. His father worked at a mill, he put himself through law school, his hair was impeccable, he was John Kerry’s running mate, and then he ran for president. He stood out between Clinton and Obama as the only candidate to really talk about the struggle of the working poor and explain, in simple terms, the solution for helping them thrive.

But everything went to crap. He was dogged by some scandal. Something about his personal life. I think it started with the letter D and ended with a baby out of wedlock with a woman that was on payroll, while his wife was dying of cancer.

Or maybe that’s normal. What do I know? I’m a lesbian that has never been with a man with hair so irresistible.

Similar to the way the Republican party erased the entire presidency (and failed economic policy) of George W. Bush, the Democratic party expunged Edwards from existence, along with his legitimate platform on combating poverty.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone else that came after him repeated his words. But he was the only one among them who lived it. He was as authentic as his sex scandal, and as vain as he was magnanimous. His southern drawl was ever-present. It didn’t disappear at fundraisers on the west coast and re-emerge stronger during rallies in red states. He was him, flaws and all.

I understand that things were different back then. The country was exhausted of hearing gross stories about powerful men and their weak penises. That’s why the populous elected two wife-loving, monoga-men to the white house back-to-back.

But those days of oppression are over.

As a society, we put a middle finger in the air to all that evangelical pretentiousness and silly talk about family values and elected a thrice-married sexual assaulter who is very (small) handsy with one of his daughters. The prettier one, of course.

So this means that we can bring back John Edwards. After years of quietly helping poor people from his tiny law firm in small-town North Carolina, it’s time to dust off his gorgeous hair and set him loose.

Let the conversation return to what it’s like to live paycheck-to-paycheck or to have to send your children to terrible schools because you can’t afford the rent in the better districts or to be unemployed because you have to check a box that says you have been convicted, regardless if you paid your debt to society.

And let that conversation be led by the guy with two crystal balls.