Sunday, May 27, 2007

my dog is maybe dying.

the title kinda sums it up.

the neurologist that shannon took her to was awesome, i guess, and shannon liked him a lot better than the guy in berkeley, who i thought was good, but i could see why he rubbed shannon the wrong way. he was a little brisk.

anyway, the new neurologist. he said, basically, in as diplomatic a way as possible, after much poking and prodding from shannon, that he (the neurologist) would not have removed the dog's leg, were he the person who had been asked. he acted like the symptoms were almost textbook symptoms and not that mysterious. the other three doctors who consulted on the dog's first leg problem were pretty stumped, with every test coming back either negative or inconclusive. and this guy was like, 'yeah, it's an auto-immune disorder or MAYBE, just barely maybe, a really serious food allergy.'

unfortunately, it's moving really fucking fast. she's getting worse. shannon switched her diet, took her off her usual raw food diet, which is specially formulated to look and act like wild dog's diets (everything is mushy and digested looking), plus bones. she's on tuna and rice and beans now. but it's not helping. it's hard to tell if that's because it's not dietary, or because the nerve damage is so far gone that it'll take a while to reverse it.

we just don't have much time, you know? she can't walk. at all. well, she can move a couple of steps, but it must really, really hurt. on the first leg, she limped, but she can't limp now because she's only got one front leg now, because those assholes told us we should amputate her fucking leg, when that didn't solve anything.

we are starting her on immune system depressants, to see if we can stop the deterioration and give her body some time to rebuild the nerves, but i am worried that it's too late. 

she will basically never greet us at the door again, because she can't move. she can't go outside alone since the surgery, which fucking sucks. she can't play in water. she can't come in in the morning and sass us until we get up. she can't go on walks.

i am worried that we're assholes to even make her wait the 10 days to see if the new medicine helps. like, maybe she just wants to die because her life fucking sucks now. she can't do anything that dogs like to do.

she barely wags her tail.

i don't want to put her to sleep without trying everything, because i think we'd always wonder if we could have fixed it. but i don't really think we can fix it. i think it's just too late.

i am having a hard time not being really mad at those vets. and feeling guilty for not looking more. i don't feel like we were hasty, because i feel like we talked to 3 different doctors who all agreed that the most likely causes for her lameness were the nerve sheath tumor or neuritis. but i can see how, when the first doctor checked her out and got the idea that that was what it was, he spoke to the others so they went in looking for confirmation of that. no one went in with totally fresh eyes. 

i wish we'd gone to this new guy before.

Friday, May 25, 2007

LA love/hate letter.

i just posted a novel of a comment to a friend who moved to la and is trying to get a grip of some kind on that slippery, greased up pig of a city... sorry, julie! that was a long one!

it made me think of la and my la peops (as small as that group is) and i thought i'd cut and paste it in here:

oh, la.

you barby, frenetic, aloof, intoxicating bitch.

i have never felt more excited about possibilites, and yet stymied by isolation, than i did in la.

it was so scary/liberating to be cut loose from the expectations other people had of who i was, what i looked like, how i dressed. i totally refound myself.

but i also spent most of that year and a half feeling lonely.

and yet, i find i still miss it, and yearn to move back to finish stuff and leave LA on my own terms.

i found that the people i met in la were really unsatisfying as friends, because everyone is REALLY locked into their own groove, and sorta insultingly disinterested in anything outside themselves and their immediate concerns. i have seldom felt so uninteresting or unimpressive.

so, i find that i only have 2 or 3 *people* i miss from la - people i connected with on a more satisfying level, and what i find myself thinking about with longing are places and views and moments and feelings i had.
the feeling of flying down sunset, over by ucla, on a sunny day, blasting music.
sitting at kings road coffee reading, people watching, eating.
drinking beers on the roof with lucy at night, talking about our future and our dreams, the fog/smog shrouded lights of the hollywood hills and the beverly center drowing out the stars.

i have no good suggestion about how to meet people that feel right, because i never found the right formula, but i do suggest patience. i also suggest making time to come to terms with la in your own way, because i know that having a boyfriend to hibernate with kinda retarded my acceptance progress, because i didn't have to be brave and go scary places alone, or call people i was scared to call, or go to random events to get a better feel for la's energy.

i know it's hard, and i know that coming from northern california, where your friendships feel more real and people feel more open, la can be a harsh contrast. la seems to have no poker face, but still hold its cards close to its chest. 

but give it time.

i don't think that everyone ends up loving la with their hearts and souls, but i think there are things there to appreciate, that make your time there feel more full of things you want. 

i'm sorry i'm not there to be nor cal with you, but i know luce is wrestling with the same stuff, so get in touch with her.

thinking about you and your fighting of the good fight.. holla for being on The Path, even when it's bumpy and the view is ugly, and the drop off is precipitous, and you have blisters. holla for being brave over comfortable.

Monday, May 21, 2007

it comes and goes.

it's been pretty smooth sailing, i guess.

work is good. tiring, and i am letting my life slide a little bit, but it's overall really satisfying.

having shannon home is the best. we had our 5 year anniversary somewhere in the last 10 days, and i am very thankful that we're still really excited to spend time together, and really enjoy each other.

we passed on that flood-bait house, and are considering a new one. it needs a lot of work, but it's in a great neighborhood, so, with the work we'd do, there's almost no way the house wouldn't be worth a lot more when we're done. we're waiting on some reports, so we'll see what happens. it's in west 'luma, which feels so much like sun valley in san rafael that it's a little weird.

we're having more dog trouble, though.

shannon has been concerned about the dog for a couple of days, but it wasn't until today that he was really sure that something is wrong. she's moving weird, and not wanting to stand. her neurologist, in berkeley, is out of town for a month and there are only 4 neurologists for pets in northern california. 

we're taking the dog to an appointment in san leandro, i guess.

the dog doesn't want to get up and go anywhere. i mean, she's always lazy, but shannon can't get her to get up and leave work with him now. when she stands up, she wobbles for a second, then flops over again.

i know that things have to go in cycles, or waves, or whatever metaphor you want to use. ups and down, highs and lows, ebb and flow.

i have been thankful for the little tiny piece of peace, but i am not ready for the misery to start again. i know mom's health stuff will flare up, and our dog will die, and shannon and i will fight.

i guess i had just hoped for a little bit longer.

we spent tonight in the pet emergency room. shannon had to carry her to the car from work. of course they don't really know what's wrong, but every lame, exspensive test gets us closer, i guess.

i'm really tired. 

on a up note, 'this american life' was so fucking good this week that i cried within the first 2 minutes and barely stopped ever. one of the best i've ever heard.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

two things.

you guys did a great job giving me your thoughts. i really appreciate it. 

we told our agent to tell the sellers we're not going for it. we have an appointment to see a craftsman further on the west side of the 'luma tonight.

i know there are other houses in the world.

it was the tulip tree, i think. that really got me.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

i'm serious.

me and shannon have no idea what to do about the house.

seriously, comment. 

pros, cons, whatever.

help a person out here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

the decision.

we made an offer on that house, as i mentioned on sunday.

and our offer was accepted.

unfortunately, by the time our offer was accepted, we had already decided not to buy it.

why, you ask?

because it is directly next to the river.

in doind internet research about the house and the neighborhood, shannon found out that that neighborhood had a reputation for flooding. like, i guess the wikipedia entry for petaluma talks about payran st and flooding. and, according to insurance companies, the house is in the worst/most serious flood zone. like, if the rest of the city is in gray scale, or teeny dot patterns, our house is in a section covered in black. 

when you live in flood areas you have to have flood insurance, because the government is tired of bailing people out. so, because no private insurance company is down with shelling out that kind of money, there is a government plan that you HAVE to get. but that plan only covers 250K of damage, which, if you have a 400K mortgage, isn't all that helpful. i mean, it's better than nothing, but not better than 400K. 

so, given all this information, we decided it was too risky, and last night we mourned the loss of this dream life we had constructed for ourselves. this dream life included:
-us riding our bikes down the bikepath along the river, into downtown petaluma, to eat dinner
-us buying extra bikes so friends could join us on these dinners
-us hanging a swing from the lowest branch of the tulip tree, for the kids that we could not help but have in such a family-friendly home
-shannon constructing a secret canoe launch along the river
-friends coming over during the county fair (which is held in the fairgrounds a few blocks away) and eating bbq and drinking beers, than all of us walking to the fair to watch the demolition derby.

we were sad, but it made sense, you know? that's a pretty big risk.

then today, shannon talked to our real estate agent. (some background: shannon has been trying to buy a house for approx. 10 yrs off and on. obviously it hasn't been steadily. this nice lady had been sending him listings in his price range for the last 2 years, knowing that he is always kinda interested, but also aware that there was no real guarantee it'd happen soon.) shannon discussed our concerns with her. he also did some more internet research.

we already knew the following:
-the river has overflowed/flooded roughly every 4 years.
-1982 was the big mammalamma flood - the biggest in 100 years
-recently, the city sank $43 million into flood abatement fortifications, like a huge wall along the river, and all these drainage areas and stuff

we had wondered if the improvements had been tested.

shannon found out that in 1982, the huge-ass (hugh jass) flood, the house supposedly (alleged by the sellers) suffered minor water damage. some cosmetic improvements were made, but no standing water damage or anything. the improvements weren't done yet in 1982.

the flood in 2006 left the notorious p.a.y.r.a.n. 'hood totes unscathed.

also, the r.e. agent said that the 250K insurance is to replace the structure, and would be enough to do that if the house was totaled in a flood. we'd need separate insurance for our stuff, but we can ask the owners what they pay.

there is a report we can do, for a very reasonable $35, to see all the insurance claims ever filed on the property, the degree of seriousness and what the amount awarded was.

in theory, if the house was pretty much untouched in 1982, before the improvements, it would be in BETTER shape now than before.

also, the house is at the top of a rise, so it's be the last house flooded, were flooding to occur.

the agent also said that the risk wasn't extreme, from her perspective. she said that this house was pretty sweet, and by far the sweetest thing in our price range. the price reflects the risk, but the risk seems pretty minimal.

with this new information, me and shannon fretted and wondered and discussed.

we felt, this evening, like we wanted to gather everyone we know into a room to debate the whole thing.

instead, i called my dad.

he said a lot of stuff, but i think his feelings can be neatly summed up with this direct quote: "if you're asking me whether or not *i'd* buy it, my answer isn't 'no.' it's 'hell no.'"

i think we can all see where i got my communication skills from.

anyway, he feels like the risk is just too great. some points he brought up, which i had thought of, but which seemed especially meaningful when stated by my dad:
-hi, global warming. yeah, rising ocean levels, crazy unpredictable weather and environment. um, duh.
-there are other houses in the world, many of which are not at risk of being flooded. touche.
-even if the flooding is a minimal risk, it's a risk. and, for all the minimal risk, we're sure talking alot about flooding, and coming up with reasons to not worry about flooding. it's still totally an issue. 

so, a resounding 'hell no' from my dad.

i know all of his points are really strong.

but i still want to keep myself in the 'maybe' zone, you know?

i know, logically, that there are other houses in the world.

we were totally fine 72 hours ago, before we'd seen this house. our lives were full and still ripe with possibility. so, we could get back to that pre-payran place again.

but it's hard to let go of how great the house is, and how the risks are maybe inflated, and what if this is Our House and we're dumb to doubt it?

letting go of dreamed/imagined futures is really hard, every time. like, when you are in love with someone and pick out your kids' names and imagine your life together, and then you break up - it's hard to shake the ghosts of those lost future kids who linger around, looking moony and lost. they're not real, and our tree-swing isn't real, and shannon's canoe launch isn't real, but it feels precious and real.

i feel like it's pretty much decided already, and we just need to accept it, but we're both having a hard time. we're both stuck in our heads tonight, fucking around with this decision, that's a total non-decision.

because seriously... how fucking stupid a bet would that be? are you willing to bet everything you own, and everything you're worth - your whole life's accumulated artifacts - that the biggest storm in *500* years won't come within the time we life in that house? that'd be a really dumb bet.

but still...

what do you think?

i know my blog isn't really a place where people do much commenting to each other, or discuss stuff, but i'd love some feedback from anyone who feels inclined.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


a couple of noteworthy things happened today.

first, i tried to cut the tip of my middle finger off with my plant clippers. it bled profusely. it's fine now, and doesn't hurt too much, but it'll be a bummer when i try to take a shower, or sweat on it at the gym. 

second, shannon (and me, by association) made an offer on a house in petaluma. the price of the house is totally great, and this is the first place we've seen where it seemed like we could have a house we're happy with (not just one where we figure we could tough it out for a few years) and afford to live and pay off the mortgage at the same time.

it's west of the freeway, which is good. the neighborhood feels like santa venetia, in san rafael. it's kinda working class, run down cute. plenty of cute houses, well-maintained houses, with some shit-heaps mixed in. it's right along the petaluma river, which is pretty much shannon's dream scenario. of course the river is polluted and not that cute, but it's a river, and it's in our yard, basically. along the river, the city has set up a bike trail, so we can ride our bikes into cute-ass downtown 'luma to eat dinner or go to the movies. lots of storage, right near whole foods, good light, AMAZING yard with a huge, mature tulip tree!

it's all terrifying and exciting.

there's more, from this weekend. lu came home, and we spent good time together in the city and with my mom and our extended friend family. family that your choose for yourself is pretty amazing.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

some thoughts to share.

-while discussing how brilliantly delicious the new JT album is with lauren, while my hairs got did beautifully by her, i realized that this album is like an updated version of 'faith' by george michael. here are some commonalities i noticed. 
1) both GM and JT came from frothy boy bands.
2) both earned artistic cred with surprisingly solid solo albums.
3) both surprisingly solid solo albums were really shocking in their blatant sexuality. (i want your sex ---> bringing sexy back, futuresex/lovesound
4) both albums have really diverse sounds, with cutting-edge (at their times) production, electronic stuff, some ballady business, and different takes on the same song. (on the JT album, many of the songs switch to totally different types of songs in the middle. on GM's album, the song 'i want your sex' has parts 1 through 3.)
5) both have embarassing anti-drug songs. i skip the JT one every time.
6) both were strongly shaped by a good producer: shep pettibone for GM and timbaland for JT.

-the book i am reading (special topics in calamity physics - by marisha pessl) is like pinkberry fro yo in the following ways:
1) both are surprising, in a really good way
2) both are refreshing, which is an adjective i hesitate to use to describe literature, but is still appropriate.
3) in between bites of pinkberry, one forgets just how refreshing and delicious and exactly what- you've-always-craved-but-never-knew-about it is. then you remember all over again and marvel at it. the book is the same way. when i am not reading it, i forget how amazing and enjoyable it is, and as soon as i open it up again i am amazed.
4) both are fresh and new, but seem like they shouldn't be, because they seem pretty simple.
5) both are worth pestering your friends about. in the form of a blog, say.

-i had therapy yesterday morning. sometimes, when things are going well, therapy is a waste of time and money, because all i'm doing is telling her the same happy stories i've already told everyone in my life. (this is perhaps a problem that prolific communicators such as myself experience, and is perhaps not widespread for the general population.) 
i was thinking that yesterday would be like that, because i have been feeling really, really happy. it's like the wellspring of my angst and searching and hopelessness has just dried up. it happened really abruptly, and without warning, but it is awesome.
nothing has changed in my life. everything is still uncertain.
but i feel okay about it.
it's like i have spent the last 6 months with my jaw and fists clenched, in a fighting stance, looking in every direction for possible threats, and i just gave up. 
i can not possibly foresee every crappy thing that will happen. it's impossible. i am exhausted from being worried and scared and Ready.
so my brain has been giving me a little break.
i accidentally let go of the reins (which i think i was only pretending were reins, but were actually, like, licorice whips tied to my own beltloops or something) and i am feeling a huge sense of relief.
it's so weird.
i wouldn't go so far as to say i am my old, positive, super-sunshiney self. i don't have a sense that 'things are going to be fine.'
i think that implies that *i* will be fine with whatever happens, and that's totally not the case.
but i will obviously survive, and if i can survive this last period of mental, emotional, and spiritual torture, i can clearly live through anything.
my therapist was REALLY stoked to hear me say this stuff. 
she even gave me permission to stop beating myself up for not working on berkeley, and to just enjoy being happy for a while.
that was a big deal to hear, because that had been a little grain of sand in my vaseline jar of joy.

-one of the things i realized in therapy was how excruciatingly self-aware i have been during this whole ordeal. it's like i am my own commentator, explaining my every movement to myself. like a hushed golf commentator. i am wincing at my own mistakes, asking a rapt audience if the decisions i make are really wise, warning the viewers that that misstep might end up having tragic consequences. i am so used to my own whispered commentary that i forget it's there, but it's been gone, and i think that's a big reason why ifeel so good. instead of thinking about the way i am living, or not living, i am just living. 

-in my big talk with my mom, i had one of those magical communication moments that i was trained to reach towards. there are moments where you 'speak your truth' so purely, and with so little bullshit and personal bias and trash attached to it, that it comes out like a ray of light. you can't take responsibility, because there's no way you could have planned it. you just say it exactly the way you mean, and it feel so good and right that when it's out, there's nothing left of it inside of you. you're really done with it. even then, after those golden, magical, 10 times only in the whole course of your life moments, the feelings are there, but they don't hurt the same way. it just gets cauterized. that happened when me and my dad really mended things between us, where it was just done. the past was done. it happened, and if i really try i can dredge up the old pain, but it's not the most important thing anymore, jostling for attention. that's how my anxiety and worry and sadness and frustration with my mom feels now.

-i may be, sort of, possibly, a very little bit making up with god. a very, very little bit. but maybe it's starting. those communication events, that leave you so clean, just don't make sense unless you can have something outside of yourself to attribute it to. i am a phenomenal communicator. really, i am like a superhero of communicating, and even i could not possibly have purposely said that the right way. it's like, for a second, god jabbed me over into the passenger seat and he drove. like, he saw how important it was and knew i needed help. that's pretty sweet, i think.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

hairs did.

i'm getting a haircut today. 

shannon took some before bictures, and i'll post them with the afters when i get back.

if lauren will let me, i am going to take off some of the length, and go lighter.

cross your fingers for me.

also, shannon is getting his hair cut, and he gets nervous about getting his hairs did, so cross your fingers for him, too.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

ups and downs.

it's funny how, as the trauma levels dip, things feel almost normalish.

i mean, they're so NOT normal, but it's clear that the human brain (or, to be more specific *my* human brain) can't handle staying in a crisis state for very long.

today i met my mom at costco for some mother/daughter retail bonding. sephora and costco were both struck hard by our combined buying power.

things felt so normal, but, again, not.

we bought tons of makeup crap, which felt normal.
mom had a sephora lady help her buy some makeup for filling in mom's eyebrows since they are still gone from the chemo.
not normal.

among the shopping highlights:
mom bought us both ipod nanos. i already have an old skool 15GB one, but the little guy will be awesome for the gym. mom was itching for an ipod, too, but she's SO not in need of something video capabilities or 40GB of memory. hers is silver and mine is hot hooker pink. duh.

i bought a fastrak, which felt strangely adult.

a 5 pack of awesome calvin klein hipster undies. 

some more goddamned books. (when will i stop? i have so many unread books - i need to declare a public moratorium. NO MORE BOOKS until i finish the ones i have. furrrealz. no more. though today i bought the new michael chabon, so wheeeee!!)

and a bunch of other stuff.

i thought about impulse-buying a tattoo (which is obviously dependent on a random opening at the shop) but talked myself out of it. i want to go to the gym this evening, and i don't want my little wrappy thing falling off my sweat-slicked body. yuck.

i read an amazing, semi-life changing article from the ny times, linked from the cancer blog i subscribe to. it's about this thing they're calling 'chemo brain' which is a newly recognized longish term side effect of chemo, where people end up kinda addled and out of it. not, like, senile, but just not as sharp. that is a big part of my confusion/fear/frustration about my mom, so reading that article was a little bit of a balm on my inflamed concerns. it doesn't solve everything, but it was a help.

shannon is coming home tomorrow morning and that is fucking awesome.

i have a lot of personal work to do, that i haven't been doing, but i am no feeling overly panicked about it. i guess i am just enjoying feeling like i have a normal life again. even if it's not forever (both because of mom's cancer and because life is life and it falls apart from time to time), it feels good to have a break from feeling like a character from a soap opera.

things i am enjoying right this second:
-my little hooker pink ipod, whose name is Untz-Untz for now
-the workout pants i got from costco
-getting buttloads of free clothes from work
-work, in general, and getting to know my boss/friend
-the chunky gold signet ring that shannon bought me
-my little gold jellies, even though we got in a fight in la because they punished me harshly for my folly in wearing them all day on a hot-ass, walking-around-y day
-the calamity physics book i am reading. i pointed it out in my last two blogs. it's a total pleasure to read
-gina (who isn't a thing, but still)

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

not at all related to cancer, sadness, or anything contemplative.

i know it's not new to anyone else, but the new justin timberlake album is fucking awesome.

i am making a total ass of myself in my car, driving around, freaking the steering wheel.

but, dude. it's fucking suh-WEET.

i have the day off tomorrow and i am TOTES going to be cleaning the house to some JT. while JT is bringing sexy back, i am going to be bringing tidy back. 

also, with shannon coming back next week (i know!!) i'll have a little more flexibility in my after work schedule. working in the city is torturous because i am so close to so many people that i really want to see, but i always have to skitter home to check in the pooch. i can never linger over bevvies.

so, starting next week, it's fucking bevvy time, so get your filofaxes out, bitches, 'cause it's ON. 

parking in my work's nabe (mission) is terrible. i have gotten three $50 tickets, which is the equivalent of a day and a half of working. it fucking sux. i need to get some kind of parking permit or - GASP! - start taking le bus encore. i really enjoyed bussing when i worked in the city, for the phone sex place, so i bet i'll enjoy it again. and without the dog stress, i won't have to sweat over getting back as fast as humanly possible. i can linger, drink a smidgen, then bus my tipsy little buns home. 

or, if anyone wants to give me a permit for that nabe, for parking, or let me use their parking space, that's also fine.

whatever works for you.

seriously though, what's up with justin timberlake being a little bit white hot? he's so not my type of guy, but he's a little bit slammin'. 

i mean, he's no shannon mills. but still...